I was a mother of young children; Lynda was a mother, grandmother and all-around baby magnet who radiated wisdom, encouragement and warmth. Our first conversations gave no indication of the journey ahead – Lynda’s journey to being a mother again and to raising her children and grandchildren in her own home.
Volunteering with Open Hand Ministries can take many forms: digging a post hole for a backyard fence of a family in its care, artfully packing a dumpster for efficiency and safety, chatting with neighbors at work sites, donating food for volunteer work days, or designing a brochure. Volunteering with Open Hand Ministries is about being in relationship with each other, our neighbors and God. And it is an opportunity to experience the power of God’s grace.
Last Saturday I was part of a group of 30 people from five churches who descended upon a house, perched on a hillside in Garfield, that had been vacant for over five years. Our clean out efforts were guided by a man who helped with over 300 house rehabs in Louisiana, so our activity was well organized and above all, respectful. We were encouraged to show care as we extracted the remaining belongings from a former pastor’s home where children had once run down now dusty halls.
Becoming a homeowner was truly one of my greatest joys. As a single mother with two children with limited resources, I never thought that this could be possible. I lived in public housing for more than ten years, but as my children got older that option was not longer acceptable. Our community, like many impoverished public housing communities, became plagued with violence and drugs. Our younger daughter had a near tragic experience in front of our home when she was innocently caught in the middle of a shooting between our neighbors. It was God that kept her from harm, but she was traumatized for some time and I felt that I could no longer keep my children safe, so I began to look for alternate housing.