On a rainy, cool Saturday morning in April volunteers from Wesley United Methodist Church in Springfield, assembled early to put into action a plan that had been months in the making. As they dodged rain drops, they hurriedly set up tents, unloaded rental trucks full of groceries and supplies, put up signs, set up meal packaging stations and prepared for what they hoped would be a large crowd.
For the last several years, Wesley Church has set aside one Saturday in April where the congregation is encouraged to work together as the body of Christ and reach out into the community. And this day was no exception. “It really allows neighborhoods to know that people care about them. We feel so blessed that we want to be a blessing to others,” said Pastor Scott Bailey-Kirk.
“The Day of Hope concept came about as an extension of the relationship Wesley has with York Elementary school,” said Terry White, 2014 Day of Hope chairperson. “We wanted to reach out to the neighborhood around the school and host an event that would meet short-term needs while letting residents know that we care,” Terry said. It was out of this relationship that the Day of Hope was born two years ago along with the adoption of another Title I school, Campbell Elementary, which is located near Wesley’s downtown campus.
Convoy of Hope and other local agencies were enlisted to help organize and provide community resources. Using Convoy of Hope’s Elevate program as a model, Wesley began to build a more longterm relationship with the York neighborhood and its churches. Wesley also partners with both York and Campbell schools to provide support, encouragement and hope to students and staff throughout the school year.
Some of the services offered at this year’s Day of Hope included dental extractions, bags of groceries, family portraits, haircuts, reading glasses, and a book fair, as well as, yard clean up for area residents. All provided free of charge. In addition, hearing, vision and blood pressure screenings were offered, and kids were treated to a carnival-like atmosphere with inflatables, face painting and karaoke. Despite the rain, over 500 volunteers provided services to more than 1,350 people at both sites. 13,608 meals were packaged, 658 families received bags of groceries, 76 patients received dental care, 168 hair cuts were given and 147 family portraits were taken.
“It doesn’t lift people out of poverty, but it is a day of respite from their everyday struggles,” said 2015 Day of Hope chair, Gary Wingo.
“You have it in your heart and you do what you can,” said Wesley member Bob Quigg. “We try to meet some of their needs and make life a little bit better.”