by Char Burch
Could nine “older adults” really make a difference while working at Back Bay Mission?” some of us thought as we piled into cars for Biloxi, MS. “Yes, we can” was our discovery! It also resulted in a difference in our own lives. For 6 days in November, our group from Pleasant Hill Community Church (Pleasant Hill, TN) put up siding and painted the outside of two houses; cleaned showers, washed laundry, made coffee at the Micah Day Center that provides services for the homeless; assisted those who literally ”shopped” in the food pantry; and prepared and served meals for the local “Loaves and Fishes” program that feeds those who need it.
Working side-by-side with a group of 11 adults from St. Matthew’s UCC, Wheaton, IL, we found ourselves learning new skills and meeting people that would remain in our hearts. Back Bay Mission is an amazing place focused on treating all people with dignity and supporting those who seek to work themselves out of poverty. We were particularly impressed with the “Bridges Out of Poverty” program in which applicants enter a two-year program of mentoring and classes learning how to overcome the cycle of poverty and find employment.
In addition, the rent assistance program is not just a handout, but Back Bay Mission’s caseworker works with the clients to learn how to maintain the apartment, manage money, etc. These are programs that change people’s lives.
Although we came home tired with some sore muscles, we came home with great admiration for the amazing work and dedication of the Back Bay Mission staff; appreciation for the effectiveness of the mission; and deeply touched by the stories of the people who are the guests/clients of Back Bay Mission.
We encourage you to consider gathering a team to volunteer at Back Bay Mission. If that is not possible, please support them financially. Contributions from donors have dropped drastically, as money seems to have been diverted to natural disaster relief. For more information, please go to the Back Bay Mission site at thebackbaymission.org.
Back Bay Mission is making a real difference and we were honored to be part of it – and so can you!