By Sue Moore
“There is something I need to tell you—I’m an atheist,” the 93 year old single lady in Vicksburg said to the people who knocked on her door. They were members of the Community Connections Church in Schoolcraft who showed up on “Big Serve” day this year to help her and others in need with basic house cleaning and yard work.
“We aren’t going to set up a tent and have a revival in your back yard. South County Community Services (SCCS) sent us to help. It doesn’t matter what you believe, we are just here to help,” answered Steve Thompson, the team leader. She let them in to help and since then, a church member has even been helping her out with taking her to the eye doctor as she is partially blind.
For the last five years, the Community Connections Church members have spent a weekend out in the communities of Schoolcraft and Vicksburg, helping with simple plumbing, yard clean up, painting, window washing, building decks or wheelchair ramps. They have put as many as 150 people of all ages on the jobs at any one time. This means they can take on more than one at a time, so this year in August they provided services to seven homes, plus the Schoolcraft Community Schools on a Sunday when they helped to finish up projects around the school buildings.
“We believe that we’ve been called to serve and put others’ needs before our own,” said Steve Thompson, Vicksburg resident and one of the project coordinators for the Big Serve. The whole thing started with an effort by Trish Leighton, who just passed away. The goal is to take a weekend off from church services and team with SCCS who can connect the volunteers to the people who need help.
“Big C Lumber has been very generous by donating supplies every year. We bring our own tools. We have contractors, plumbers, electricians in our membership and even a building inspector who give freely of their time,” Thompson said. “Our biggest problem is in this day and age [is that] people who most need our help are reluctant to invite us in. We have actually run out of projects even though we furnish the materials, the labor, and buy everything we will need on the site for the recipients.”
Like many others in the Community Connections Church, Thompson came to its services because the members were very inviting, warm, helpful, friendly, salt of the earth types, Thompson related. “We called our Big Serve the ‘Leighton Legacy’ this year in honor of Trish, who organized the effort and was at least with us in spirit.”