By Sarrah Peters
On Wednesday, July 20 about 40 volunteers gathered at the abandoned
grocery store on South 11th Street in Gadsden. The volunteers were
there to kick off the Love Your Neighbor Initiative’s first project:
phase one of the revitalization of South 11th Street.
Twelve churches have agreed to participate in the initiative so far,
including Crosspoint Community Church, The Cornerstone, Freedom
Church, Edgewood Baptist Church, The Tabernacle, The Well, Living
Truth Christian Center, Cathedral of Praise, New DestinyFaith Worship
Center, Mt. Zion Baptist Church and United Christian Church. Each
church will adopt a family along South 11th Street. Volunteers from
the church will work to provide the adopted family with help with lawn
care, clean-up and other maintenence needs. The church members will
build a relationship with their family and provide them with an
immediate need. The churches will also ascertain a long term need, so
it can provide contact with an advisor that can help the family meet
their needs. These advisors consist of community leaders that agreed
to lend their assistance in their fields of expertise when they were
approached by the Love Your Neighbor Iniative creator Gary Hodges, who
works with WTJP/Trinity Broadcasting Network.
The idea is to provide the resources to meet the community’s unmet
needs. Advisors include Gadsden State Community College President
Martha Lavendar as the education leadership advisor; Quality of Life’s
Wayne Rowe as the health and environment advisor; Etowah County
Chamber of Commerce’s Heather New as economic development advisor;
Breakaway Ministries’ Eddie Nichols as the youth leadership advisor;
Harold Kimble as the communication and technology advisor; Robert
Avery as the socio-cultural empowerment advisor; Angela Gonzalez as
the immigration advisor; Etowah Detention Center’s Dr. Scott Hassell
as the criminal justice advisor; Greater Gadsden Housing Authority’s
Wayne East as the housing and homelessness advisor and Glencoe Mayor
Charles Gilchrist as the veterans advisor.
The revitilization project is only the tip of the iceburg of what the
Love Your Neighbor Initiative hopes to do, with a second phase of
revitilzation planned for next year and many other volunteer projects
in the works.
“It could start a revolution,” said Hodges. “It opens the door for God
to do the things we can’t do.”
The initiative also brings people together.
“Loving your neighbor is what it’s all about,” said Hodges.
Hodges hopes the initiative can help people move past whatever
seperates them, whether it is denomination, politics or anything else.
“Jesus gave us a command: Love each other,” said Hodges.
To learn more or volunteer your services, visit lyninitiative.com.
Keep your eye out for an upcoming app that will help connect people
with the initiative.