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A Single focus: ministry works to meet the needs of others

By Rod Kerr, Special to the Salisbury Post

Imagine…

Being homeless, widowed with several children to feed and clothe

Or, having your church close because you can’t pay the rent.

Or, losing several thousand pounds of food because of a hurricane that was supposed to feed hundreds of children.

Or, can you imagine as a student going to school and not having paper, pencils or bookbags.

Or, having nothing to eat from lunch on Friday until breakfast on Monday.

Now, imagine you and a couple dozen friends being able to be a part of helping out in every one of those situations – not just around you and your community but around the world.

For 10 years, a group of single adults primarily from the Singled Out group at First Baptist-Salisbury have done just that. In those years they have held Mayberry Dinner Theatres, pot luck dinners, sold coupon books, held Holiday Faires, and hosted the “Salisbury’s Largest Indoor Yard Sale” at the First Ministry Center – the old YMCA on Fulton Street. In those years, they have not only been involved in doing projects locally, regionally, across the United States, and around the world, but have donated over $60,000 to dozens of worthy projects.

Around Salisbury and Rowan County, they have contributed to Rowan Helping Ministries, supplied hundreds of filled bookbags to Communities in Schools, given several thousand dollars to Meals on Wheels, helped a local church pay rent for several months, built cabinets at Capstone Recovery, and contributed to the Christmas Fund of the Rowan Baptist Association Ministry.

They have given to the Baptist Children’s Homes through the North Carolina Baptist Missions, and when there were hurricanes in the Southeast, hundreds of dollars were sent to those victims.

This “Singled Out” group contributed to work in church and prison ministries in West Virginia and the poorest county in Kentucky. Not only did they send money but have sent volunteers to several churches, schools, youth organizations, and job ministries in Cumberland, Ky., hosting food drives, building and repairing various local ministries, and holding worship services in several churches.

Not just limiting themselves to this country, they have funded home-building in Kenya, well-drilling in India, medical supplies in Honduras and Guatemala, and helped send a bus and supplies to an orphanage in Haiti.

That sounds like a lot of work, but when you talk to them, the amount of work is never mentioned. You’ll hear words like “thankfulness,” “camaraderie,” “family,” “privilege,” “fun,” but most of all, “joy.”

Retired teacher Sarah Proctor began talking about the “fun and fellowship” as she gathered and cleaned items for their current yard sale. “There is such joy in being able to give back to people. We find out the needs and I’m ‘Tell me what I can do!’” Her good friend, Robin Powell, continues, “Many of our folks may not have a lot but we are made aware of the many opportunities of service. We learn to see the needs. And for us it is not just an event — it is the foundation of who we are.”

Linda McNabb has been a part of the efforts for the last several years. “This is my way of helping out.” She gets a bit teary-eyed when she confesses, “I can’t teach or preach or even sing, but I can make people feel important, welcome and loved. Then you can see their joy.”

Walter Kardys, a fairly new member of the group, jokes about his role at the yard sale, “I like the wheeling! Someone will come right up and start bargaining. I’ll give them a good price.” Then he smiles, “I’ll find out she’s buying for her church and that makes a big difference to me. She gets a better deal!”

Helping other families and churches is special to this group of single adults. Many of them have had their share of struggles and found their own faith and hope has been strengthened as they serve others. Jolette Morrison, who has been with Singled Out since the beginning, speaks of the purpose of the group. “We are the hands and feet of Jesus.

Whether it’s back-to-school supplies, something for their house, food for children, building wells – these are things you can’t put a price tag on.” A veteran of missions work in Salisbury, the Coalfields of West Virginia and Kentucky, and the villages of Guatemala, Morrison continues, “The need is everywhere and our world is bigger than just Rowan County. It seems like we give so little and get back so much.”

Lou Hamilton has been our “Yard Sale Queen” for nine years. “The yard sale itself is a ministry.” She related a story of one of our senior adult vendors. “She said, ‘I’m most thankful that I can participate because with what I have sold during the yard sale, I can go to the drugstore and get my medicines.’ You see, the Lord works in mysterious ways.” Hamilton says, “In addition to the monies we have been able to give away, we’ve probably given $10,000 worth of furniture, health supplies, toys, and household supplies to needy families who came to the events.”

Mike Ketchie, who has taken over the coordination of the yard sale and the group’s “fun and fellowship” activities, has been around the world on over 40 mission projects in the last 23 years. “There’s a lot of problems in third-world countries, but we also have many of the same ones right down the street.” Mike has been to Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, but he has also helped out in West Virginia, Kentucky, and continues to do a lot behind the scenes for senior and disabled people in Rowan County. “But,” he states, “it’s not about me. It’s all His! We just need to be good stewards.”

Mike sums up what many in the group feel: “This helps us grow spiritually. We are different people because of what we’ve done and where we have been. I’m more respectful and grateful for what we have in comparison with many people.”

The group is “paying it forward” as Lou Hamilton tells of the following incident at last year’s sale. “A dad reserved a vendor table and as he arrived he introduced his 8-year-old son and informed me that it was his items that he was to sell – some painted rocks, toys, and some things donated by his mom. At the end of the sale on Saturday, this young man came to me and gave me a $20 bill saying, ‘This is to help other children.’”

And so the challenge is passed on.

Singled Out will hold it’s 10th Annual “County’s Largest Indoor” Yard Sale on Friday, Aug. 3 from 6-8:30 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 4 from 7 a.m. until noon. The sale is held at the First Ministry Center at 220 N. Fulton Street in Salisbury. Food is available beginning one hour before the sale. Donations are also being accepted Monday, July 23 through Friday, July 27 from 5:30-8 p.m.; Saturday, July 28 from 9 a.m.-noon; and Monday, July 30 through Wednesday, Aug. 1 from 5:30-8 p.m. For further information, text Mike Ketchie at 704-636-1551 or call Rod Kerr at 704-633-0431.

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