On the 2014 Great Day of Service (GDS), four GDS volunteer teams arrived at Central Mobile Home Village on Chattahoochee Avenue in NW Atlanta prepared to do maintenance and painting work on four mobile homes for four Agape families. What transpired over the next several hours not only transformed run-down “trailers” into cheery homes, but also touched hearts and minds of the volunteers and families alike and inspired relationships that continue changing lives today.
The 2014 Agape GDS projects were inaugural projects for the Great Day of Service and the first year for PRUMC to be officially involved with Agape. The multi-cultural, family oriented Central Mobile Home Village is one of the last remaining “trailer parks” within the Atlanta city limits, and for many members of our congregation, right in our own back yard. Painting a trailer not only improves it aesthetically, but also adds an extra layer of insulation and helps preserve it. The four 2014 Agape GDS project captains – Juliane McCaleb, Dan Rogers, Cran Upshaw and Drew Valentine – were new to each other and new to working with Agape. All veteran GDS project captains, they knew to approach the project assessment site visit with open minds, warm hearts and no expectations. What they didn’t know was that this project was just the beginning of their endeavors together with Agape and Central Village. Juliane shared her team’s experience: “The Agape 2014 mobile home project was one of the best projects in my 15 years of GDS. When I went for my site visit to prepare a list of supplies, I was overwhelmed by how much work the homes needed – there were broken windows, bullet holes, mold, exposed wiring, raw plywood patches, trash and discarded toys. I realized paint was the least of their worries, and I began praying for them and for our project.
“On the actual Great Day of Service I was overwhelmed in an entirely different way. A dynamic, diverse group of volunteers showed up ready to take action, and miraculously three of them were fluent in Spanish. Tony Conway from Agape gave us the best overview of his agency, who they serve, their purpose and their mission. Many of us were moved to tears and everyone had questions. These mobile home refurbishment projects are an extension of the love and year-round support Agape offers the children they counsel. On that gorgeous morning we were able to bleach, patch, sand, prime, caulk, paint and transform that trailer into a cheery home.
“It was so clear that the Lord had very purposefully led this specific group of volunteers to this project. Through our translators and lots of gentle prodding, we learned more about the family and their needs. By the end of the day this group had purchased and installed two new windows and lined up an electrician to ensure the safety of the wiring. After the Great Day many of us have kept in touch and kept serving. “Team Flora” has delivered groceries, meals, an electrician, dog food, clothes, rugs and linens, furniture and turkeys – not to ‘that trailer project,’ but to that precious family.”
Agape will be a part of the Great Day of Service again this year with five projects. We are excited to once again improve four trailers for four families, with the same four inspired project captains returning to lead the effort.
In addition to the trailer maintenance, PRUMC Youth will host a Spring Festival for the Central Village resident children, many of whom are now part of PRUMC’s weekly Agape tutoring program through E. Rivers Elementary. The Central Mobile Home Village Spring Festival will feature games, face painting, crafts, food and drink, fun and fellowship. Jada O’Neil and Katharine Reed are GDS co-captains for the festival.
PRUMC’s partnership with Agape began three years ago and is quickly becoming one of the most productive and successful outreach partnerships we enjoy at PRUMC, thanks to aligned values and enthusiasm from everyone involved. Members of our congregation began working with Agape several years ago in smaller ways through our Backpack Drive and the Agape Fresh Produce program, among others, with PRUMC Local Outreach Advocate Caroline Crawford at the helm.
“As the two organizations worked together, we realized they were one of the most successful agencies in education for children, which is a big priority for our Outreach program,” says Beth Spencer, director of Local Outreach for PRUMC. “They have a 100 percent graduation rate, and we wanted to be a part of that,” she added.
This year Agape is one of the official PRUMC Outreach sponsored agencies, and PRUMC is participating in the Agape after-school tutoring program through E. Rivers Elementary. Fifty PRUMC members now tutor Agape children from E. Rivers each week.