When members of Soapstone United Methodist Church in Raleigh decided to make a difference in the lives of children, they found an opportunity close by.
Less than 5 miles from their church is Baileywick Road Elementary School, the perfect partner for a special mission outreach.
Church volunteers say more than half of Baileywick’s students are considered economically disadvantaged.
English is the second language for one in four students at the school, and many of the children are being raised in single-parent households.
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As the partnership developed in March 2014, the church found an enthusiastic supporter in Baileywick’s principal, Kathy Hartenstine, who visited the church and talked to volunteers about the different types of assistance that would be welcomed at her school.
One year later, the program is going strong.
“Soapstone’s mission as a church focuses on empowering and transforming lives,” said Becky Graebe, a church member and volunteer chairwoman of communications. “Partnering with Baileywick provided opportunity to collaborate with young students, their teachers and families in ways that could make a real difference in their day-to-day lives.
“We also knew there would be ample opportunities to use the gifts and talents of a wide variety of people in our congregation – from those who had the time and desire to build an ongoing relationship with children by reading to them or tutoring them each week to those who just wanted a one-time hands-on project such as painting a classroom or moving a sandbox.”
The volunteers help around the school in many ways, from academic support to facilities maintenance to providing trinkets for treasure boxes.
Soapstone volunteers are also committed to the Backpack Buddies program, which sends at-risk students home from school for the weekend with a backpack loaded with food.
“I’ve never been on an international mission trip, but I can honestly say the mission work going on down the street is quite remarkable,” said Kim Harward, a Soapstone member and volunteer at Baileywick. “To see the children, whether it’s a kindergartner or a fifth grader, progress in reading is awesome.
“These children are always excited to see you and ask when you are coming back. But what seals the deal for me is seeing their self-confidence bloom and realizing they are special, appreciated and heard. My prayer is that these dividends will continue to pay off for years to come.”
Jim Galloway, Soapstone’s director of missions and congregational care, tutors Baileywick third graders in math. He said local and global mission work is equally fulfilling.
“Here in North Raleigh we have neighbors with critical human needs such as poverty and especially for recent immigrants that can put children’s education in danger,” Galloway said. “We can and must empower our neighbors.”
Hartenstine, the school principal, returned to the church earlier this month to provide an update on the partnership. Soapstone remains committed to the project.
“Everyone has a talent of some kind that would benefit someone else in the community,” said Jim McCoy, a Soapstone member who volunteers at Baileywick. “Follow your heart. Do what you love. Share your talents. There is no more rewarding job that you can do.”
St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church will host its annual men’s fellowship barbecue dinner on Friday, April 24.
Award-winning Stoke & Smoke BBQ is providing the food. Plates of barbecue, potatoes, coleslaw, dinner role and dessert cost $9 each.
The church will offer pick-up in the drive-through lane or delivery in the North Hills area from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The eat-in dinner will be served from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the church, which is located at 4523 Six Forks Road, Raleigh.
To place an order, or for more details, call 919-215-1425.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at firstname.lastname@example.org.