Dicy McCullough: Cleveland church embraces helping others
As a way to express Christian love to families in the community, Embracing Hearts, a women’s group from Cornerstone Baptist Church in Cleveland held its second outreach program on Saturday, April 27. Services offered were a free mammogram, dental care, groceries, haircuts, massages, manicures, chiropratic care, prayer support and lunch. While most of the services were for women, men came for dental work, blood pressure checks and health care.
Planning for the second annual event began in September of 2012, under the leadership of Jeanette Nelson, president of the group. With a plan in place by October, a grant was written for money to obtain a mobile mammography unit from Charlotte Radiology. When news came in March the grant had been approved, everyone was happy that women in the community would have the opportunity to receive much needed medical attention.
This being the second year of the event, some of the foundational planning and organization were already in place, which made the process a little easier. With everyone working at the church the Friday night before to prepare for the event, all that was left to do Saturday morning was to greet and serve the people.
The morning started out a little cool and damp, but even the weather couldn’t dampen the spirits of those who came to serve. After group pictures, and with both the Dental Bus from the N.C. Baptist Men’s Association and the mobile mammography unit from Charlotte Radiology in place, everyone was ready, willing and able to minister to those who came through the doors.
In order for visitors to know who to go to for help, members of Embracing Hearts wore hot pink t-shirts with I John 4:7 printed on the back that said, “Love one another.” Becoming an honorary member for the day, Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, Josh Grizzle agreed to wear a matching black t-shirt. He took good natured teasing about not wearing hot pink like the ladies, but said with a heart and lace intertwined over the verse the black t-shirt was “girlie” enough for him.
As a runner, my job was to get patients to and from the dental bus and was truly amazed to see how happy people were to see a dentist. After procedures, with their jaw still numb and barely able to talk, patients often expressed how thankful they were someone cared enough to help them. Just like last year, I heard over and over, “This is what the church should be about. It’s great to see how much people care.”
There were many special moments, but an especially touching one happened near the end of the day. Because there were only four dentists working, it was necessary to pre-arrange dental appointments. One lady who came early in the morning needing dental care didn’t have an appointment, but decided to stay all day, hoping a spot would open.
By 2 p.m., with still no dental appointments available, Jeanette said she hoped God would open up a spot for the lady. It was almost like God heard Jeanette’s request because within five minutes a spot opened. When everyone heard the news, cheers went up throughout the building.
While waiting for appointments, visitors often passed the time playing games. Judy Huss and Karen Toney, members of Embracing Hearts, assisted with this activity. Judy was touched to hear the appreciation and gratitude of those who came to the outreach program and won’t ever forget a mother who brought her children to get food, lunch and a hair cut because her husband had recently been laid off from work. The outreach program was a “God-send” for them.
There’s no doubt hard work went into getting ready for the event, including extra duties and meetings. Sometimes there was frustration because of the uncertainty about how things were going to work, or if the needs of the people would be met, but in the end every minute of preparation was worth it.
One Embracing Hearts’ member, Angela Benfield Harkey, summed it up this way: “Today, a wonderful group of women received much needed mammograms, dental care and pampering. In return, Embracing Hearts received compliments for all of the love, hard work and dedication they poured into the event. What a blessing to serve ... What a day!”
Even though Embracing Hearts had the vision, the event could not have happened without church and community members volunteering their gifts and time in a joint effort to make the day a success. In the words of the prophet, Isaiah, “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light shine in the darkness and your gloom arise in the noonday.” No one can deny that on Saturday, April 27, 2013, a light was shining bright in the little town of Cleveland at Cornerstone Baptist Church.
Dicy McCullough’s books are available at local bookstores, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Call her at 704-278-4377.