East Lincoln Christian Ministry recently celebrated three decades of service to Lincoln County.
President Laura Moore said the nonprofit organization, always bustling with activity throughout the year and currently assisting 300 families a month, celebrated its 30th anniversary with a special community Family Fun Day in July.
Approximately 45 volunteers flock daily to the 22,500 square-foot facility to help with a variety of services and assistance programs Christian Ministry offers.
“By the grace of God, we hope we can stay that way,” Moore said.
The organization has only one paid staff member while the majority of the ministry’s work is accomplished by people, including Moore, who freely give of their time and energy.
“It’s a group of people with loving hearts and willing hands,” she said.
Moore assumed the facility’s head leadership role in July following eight years in the vice president position under former President Al Lovin, who still fills a large volunteer need at the ministry.
Now a thriving mission field to thousands of needy area citizens, most of whom live in Denver, the nonprofit originated in a trailer in 1983, Moore said.
The organization moved locations at least once before finding a permanent home on Catawba Burris Road, across from Rock Springs Campground, in 2005.
In recent years, nonprofit officials have added a room for men’s and children’s apparel and necessities.
On Tuesday, mother-daughter duo Susan and Emily Herald shopped for inexpensive vacation dresses in the facility’s “Special Events” room — one of many locations throughout the ministry that has been stocked with low-cost donations for people to purchase.
In addition to household appliances, electronics, holiday décor, shoes, books and purses, the ministry offers medical supplies and equipment such as walkers, crutches and canes. Moore said the organization donates any excess medical items to Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, where they are refurbished and sent overseas.
Volunteers Debbie Burchardt and Colleen Shytle, both of Denver, work multiple days a week in the facility’s sorting department, organizing clothing items.
Burchardt, who started out at the ministry as a frequent shopper, eventually chose to volunteer her time since she had similar previous experience at a nonprofit organization in Maryland.
Following four solid years of dedication to East Lincoln Christian Ministry, she still can’t get enough of her volunteer duties.
“It’s addictive,” Burchardt said. “Once everything’s started to look good, you want to do it a little more.”
Shytle also finds immeasurable bliss in her simple sorting responsibilities.
“I don’t know what I’d do without this place,” she said. “If I miss a day, my week doesn’t go right.”
ELCM also meets the community’s food and financial needs by providing free food items and monetary assistance for electric and medical bills.
Individuals must first go through an interview process with nonprofit officials before receiving any sort of aid, Moore said.
For those whom the organization successfully approves, food is not hard to obtain.
Not only can individuals pick up a grocery cart filled with vegetables, meat, desserts and other snacks every six weeks but they can also grab food from the ministry’s mobile food pantry truck every two months.
“Technically, people can get food every four weeks,” Moore said.
The organization also delivers daily meals to home-bound residents, currently serving 70 people on average across nine different eastern Lincoln County routes.
Nonprofit officials buy food for the home meals program through Sagebrush Steakhouse in Denver and Butcher Boys in Sherrills Ford.
Various Denver area grocery stores and businesses also donate food to the facility’s pantry three to five times a week since shelf items quickly disappear at the start of each week, Moore said.
While ELCM also offers a monthly dental clinic, the organization cancelled this month’s scheduled event due to a lack of volunteer dentists.
With a large number of citizens too poor to afford dental care and insurance, Moore said the clinics are imperative for the community.
More than offering free handouts, organization officials’ central focus is promoting clients’ self-sufficiency.
One of the ways the ministry works to achieves this primary goal is by offering a GED program in cooperation with Gaston College.
The program, taught by college instructor Alyssa Gordon, currently has 10 adults, who meet three hours three times a week for two to three months.
Moore said the program’s goal is to provide people with an education that will give them better job opportunities, and ultimately, a better way to provide for their families.
East Lincoln Christian Ministry, located at 4278 Catawba Burris Road in Denver, is open 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
To donate or volunteer, call (704) 483-4415 or email email@example.com.
The organization will be open 2-5 p.m. Friday for a special half-price sale.