Welcome Joyce Barker

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March
8

The Presbyterian Community Center happily welcomes Joyce Barker, a long-time PCC volunteer and member of Northminster Presbyterian Church, as our newest employee. Joyce works with Brenda Wass in PCC Emergency Services as a caseworker. She interviews clients, determines needs and coordinates efforts to provide support for their needs.

Shortly after beginning her job, Joyce received a card from one of her clients with the following note:

“Dear Ms. Joyce Barker, I want to personally thank you so very much for all you do for our community. Several weeks ago I too experienced the love and support of someone who really cares about people (you.) Please know that you will never be forgotten by me or God! It is so important for you to know how grateful I am for all you’ve done to assist me in my time of difficulty and my promise to you is I will give back as I have been given to. When I left your place of service I felt like I had blessings of God all over my life as well, so please know how grateful I am to have met such a person and a staff of people who really care. Even the receptionist who gave me bread was so kind to me.”

“This,” says Joyce, “is what it’s all about.”

Dragon Boat Race to Raise Funds for PCC

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March
8

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Have you noticed an increasing presence of dragons around Roanoke? The Presbyterian Community Center is holding the first annual Smith Mountain Lake Dragon Boat Race and Festival on Saturday, September 15. The proceeds of this fun fundraising event will support PCC Emergency Services and Pathways for Youth programs.

Dragon Boat racing is one of the fastest growing team sports in the United States and we are happy to introduce it to the Roanoke Valley. The PCC is recruiting teams to race. Teams consist of 21 people and like most walks or runs for a good cause, team members raise money to sponsor their place on the boat crew. All boats, equipment and professional steerers will be provided by the Pan American Dragon Boat Association out of Tampa, Florida.

We are very grateful to all of our sponsors and for the skillful and enthusiastic help of Helen Nunley who created the event website, smldragonboatrace. com. If you get the chance, take a look at this site and learn more about the event.

Agape Youth Choir Visits Center

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March
8

Agape Youth Choir Visits Center

Volunteer super chef Angie Pittendrigh prepares lunch for Agape Youth Choir.

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In late June, sixteen youth and seven adults from the Agape Youth Choir of Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church in Rock Hill, SC. spent the day at the Presbyterian Community Center bagging 1,000 pounds of donated sweet potatoes for our pantry, cleaning and organizing the Pathways after-school program area and helping to mend carpet throughout the Center. Lunch was prepared by our Pathways volunteer, Angie Pittendrigh. Prior to lunch, all at our Center were treated to a very lovely prayer of thanks sung by the choir.

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Layoff Creates Many Needs

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March
8

Dottie is a 61-year-old grandmother who has worked steadily since she graduated from high school. She has custody of her two grandchildren, ages 7 and 16. Due to current economic conditions, she has been laid off from her job of 12 years.

She has applied for unemployment benefits, but in the meantime was unable to pay her electric bill, needed prescription medication for herself and food for her family. Thanks to the PCC partnership with the Community Housing Resource Center, we were able to obtain supplementary funds to pay the electric bill of $235. Funding from the Thomas P. and Lewise S. Parsley Fund of the Foundation for Roanoke Valley, which assists in purchasing prescription medications for senior citizens, provided the help she needed for her medicine. Dottie also received groceries from the PCC pantry to feed her family.

Splangchnizomai

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March
8

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Vacation Bible School students from Second Presbyterian Church deliver breakfast foods to PCC pantry.

Blessings come in all forms. One such blessing came as a gift from my sister-in-law, Nancy, who shared The Blessing of a Ginkgo Tree, a collection of devotions by the clergy of her church, Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. As I read the devotions, one hit close to home.

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Anne, Chris and Steve Coppersmith, pantry volunteers.

It began with a word that I could not even pronounce let alone recognize: splangchnizomai. Rev. Henry H. “Chip” Edens, III explains in his devotion that splangchnizomai is in fact a Greek word which appears several places in the bible. It means “to be moved by compassion” but Chip goes further to say that splangchnizomai is more than just feeling an emotion. It is the experience of being moved by compassion into action. I had to smile while reading this since splangchnizomai describes each volunteer and supporter of the Presbyterian Community Center.

Recently a newcomer to the Valley brought some clothes to the Center that her husband no longer needed. A pair of leather soled shoes was included in the gently worn dress clothes. The recipient of these shoes, who had never owned such a nice pair of shoes, was thrilled.

On any day the shelves of the food pantry may appear stocked for the week but after a continual stream of clients the shelves are quickly depleted. This happened mid-summer when, by Tuesday, the interviewers were asking clients to return later in the day once a food delivery was processed. The Hunger Buster delivery from Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church was manna from heaven that day. The bags were stocked with just what the shelves needed and the final count was 203 grocery bags full of food - exceeding the congregation’s goal thanks to Pastor B. Failes’ weekly encouragement. Later in the week the Hunger Buster bags from Campbell Memorial Presbyterian Church and Second Presbyterian Church vacation bible school were also delivered. The shelves were full again…stocked by ongoing acts of compassion.

Pastor John Hayden from Access Church took immediate action when he saw Roman Keller, Elementary Coordinator, at Fallon Park with kids from Pathways’ summer program. Roman came back to the Center with fifteen book bags full of school supplies. First Presbyterian Church provided the remaining book bags which allowed each student to receive a packed book bag when registering for the 2012 – 2013 school year at Pathways.

Whether it is a small act of donating clothes, a youth group service day at the Center, making Hunger Buster deliveries, signing up for a volunteer shift with Emergency Services or Pathways, sending a financial contribution for Emergency Services or supporting the Pathways for Youth program, the PCC staff and clients are blessed with a community that not only cares but takes action.

Splangchnizomai. The Greek pronunciation is something like: splawnk-NITZ-oh-my. If you can’t remember how to pronounce this word…don’t worry…you won’t need to pronounce it to put it into action.

by Cheryl Poe, Director of Volunteer Services

Mentors Make a Difference

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March
8

Webster's Dictionary defines mentor as a trusted teacher or wise counselor. Some of our most very blessed Pathways for Youth students can attest to the truth of this description but would certainly add that a dedicated mentor can change a life.

Steadman Soles, a June graduate of Pathways had a long-term mentor who provided enriching activities and the support he needed to successfully navigate his way through school despite some trying circumstances that often threw roadblocks in his journey. Steadman believes that his mentor helped to boost his self-confidence and discover his unique gifts and talents. "It was kind of like having a cheering section. You always knew that person was there to help you along the way." says Steadman. Although he is beginning his own life as a young adult Steadman still keeps in close contact with his mentor and is grateful for the relationship they have developed. In turn, Steadman would like to pay it forward and someday become a mentor himself.

Steadman's experience highlights just one of many successful mentor and mentee relationships that has fostered encouragement and change in the life of a child here at PCC. The number of mentors working with our program is very low this year. We would like very much to find at least ten caring adults willing to work a few hours each month with a mentee from Pathways.

Mentoring does make a difference. We have seen over and over again how our children with regular long-term mentors experience greater success in school and in social settings than those without. We encourage you to think about becoming a mentor to a Pathways child. The time commitment you make can transform a young life. If you would like more information about becoming a mentor, please contact Nicole Jennings at 982-2911 ext. 222 or by email.

Dragon Boat Race: Paddling for the PCC

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March
8

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The second annual Smith Mountain Lake Dragon Boat Race and Festival to benefit the Presbyterian Community Center was held at Parkway Marina on September 14. The day was beautiful and the competition was fierce among 17 teams, raising funds for our programs for needy families and children.

The BAC Paddlers claimed first place with the fastest time of the day. Unreliable Boating Skills came in second and Covenant Crewsers took third place.

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Susan Arthur of Cool Running was the top individual fundraiser and top fundraising team was Covenant Crewsers. Best dressed team was Second Wind. Best dressed drummer and best tent awards went to Lords & Ladies of the Underground.

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We are very grateful to Carilion Clinic and Velocity Care and all sponsors and participants of this fun event. Our 2014 race will take place on October 4. Mark your calendars now!

Pantry Helps Neighbor

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March
8

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Mr. Huffman lives near the Presbyterian Community Center and has been stopping in to visit almost every day for years. "The people are nice," he says, "and they treat me right." He is a widower and lives on a minimal amount per month from Social Security. This income is supplemented by $10 in food stamps. "That buys me a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs and a loaf of bread, not too much. I get groceries every month from the pantry. Without the Presbyterian Center, I would be starving to death."

Living in Crisis

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March
8

In September, a woman in her late twenties came to the PCC to ask for help with an electric bill and termination notice. She and her husband are the parents of a six-year-old son. Three years ago, the husband had surgery to remove a mass near his heart. Until 2009, they had owned a business, but were forced to close it due to the economic downturn. He was working for another company until shortly after his surgery when he suffered a stroke and began having seizures. Earlier this year he fell and badly damaged his ankle, which will eventually require another surgery. During all this turmoil, the son had to have several teeth surgically removed. The husband is unable to drive and our client must take him and her son to weekly appointments. They have no family able to help financially or with transportation. Because of this, she has been unable to work full-time. Fortunately, her employer has been understanding and kept her working part-time. They are waiting for a decision on his application for disability income. Meanwhile, this couple is living month to month on her income and $190 in food stamps, trying to keep ahead of the bills. The Presbyterian Community Center was able to pay the electric bill, provide them with food and sign up the son to attend the Christmas party at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

Thank You

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March
8

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Thank you, John Hildebrand, for sweetening the Center. This year begins John’s 21st year of delivering the Kroger bread and sweets to the Center each first and third Monday...even on holidays!!

On behalf of the staff and Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Community Center, I take this opportunity to send sincere thanks to all who support our mission in southeast Roanoke.

This annual "Thank-You" edition of the Center Post is dedicated to each of you who provide funds, food, personal time and all manner of contributions to help ease the burdens felt by our less fortunate neighbors. Your commitment truly makes a
difference for so many in our community. Thank you!

Karen McNally, Executive Director