Whether it is assisting those in his own backyard or shining a spotlight on the needs of a Raleigh community, Roger Brantley stays busy offering a helping hand
Q: You are one of the founders of SHARE, an outreach ministry involving members from many of the area churches. Explain a little bit about what that is and how you became involved?
A: Well, it started when my daughter, Whitley, and I were driving down the road in one of the public housing areas of Zebulon and we saw this little girl running with a sandwich and she fell down, dropping her sandwich. My daughter and I stopped to check on her and the little girl was upset because she said her family did not have a lot of food and that was the only sandwich she had. We went to the church we were attending at the time, Zebulon Baptist, and we were able to get some bread, some cakes. My daughter went into the church and pretty much loaded the car down (laughing). I told her we couldn’t take everything at the church. We brought all of this back to the girl’s family. Later, we were driving around and my daughter saw the sign at Zebulon United Methodist about the free brown-bag lunches and we took some of those over to the housing units. We learned, after talking to some of the people in the public housing areas, about some of the hardships that were taking place – people out of work, power getting cut off, no jobs, no food. I started talking to some of the people who work with the brown bag lunch program – Tom Falvey and Cindy Privette, about what we could do for these people. Later, as my daughter and I were driving around, we noticed the Dew4Him sign on Arendell Avenue and we stopped to find out what that was about, talking to Jane Wolfe. Later we spoke with Barnanne Creech, and then it just grew until it involved many different churches in eastern Wake and Rocky Mount (Brantley is from Rocky Mount and moved to Zebulon in 2007 to work at Glaxo). SHARE stands for Serving Him and Reaching Everyone.
Q: So it is pretty much providing food and monies to help pay bills to those in need?
A: Well it is much more than that. For instance, Central Baptist hosted a sports camp at the Zebulon park for kids who would not otherwise be able to attend a camp like this. At Thanksgiving, area churches got together and provided dinners for 150 people. Last Christmas, some of the people from the area churches got together and put on a Christmas program on Silver Street in the public housing areas. Last summer, we took kids from those same neighborhoods and brought them to the Zebulon Country Club to teach them how to swim. We are going to do the same thing this year. There are many churches involved – SHARE has grown in the last four years and we have many people who volunteer their time. You know, eastern Wake County is one of the state’s designated food deserts.
Q: What is a food desert?
A: Areas where there is not enough food to sustain the population.”
Q: And this experience has obviously impacted how you spend your free time.
A: In addition to activities at my church, Wakefield Central, I drive a truck for Feed America. I am also on the board at the Eastern Regional Center in Zebulon. You know, in many ways, SHARE can sometimes tap into more resources than we can at the regional center. Churches noticed that more and more towns were having to cut back on their budgets – meaning the churches were answering more of the calls for needs in the communities.
Q: Aren’t you also working on a project with a friend of yours who works for the Raleigh Police Department?
A: Yes, my friend, Robert Wagner, is working on a film “Bragg N East”, which is about one of the highest crimes areas in the state (intersection of Bragg and East streets in Raleigh). He went to the Cannes Film Festival in France to speak with people who may provide financial support for the filming. I also help him out when I get a chance. They have a lot going on in that area – drugs, prostitution, crime. There are people working hard – trying to transform and turn that area around. Sometimes, that is what it takes.
Correspondent Dena Coward