TAKE 5: Bread of Life Ministries meets community's needs
This week, we Take 5 with former Herald Citizen of the Year Bill Hicks about Bread of Life Ministries. Hicks founded BOLM, which operates out of the old McIver Street School, in 2005. The ministry provides a number of services, including a free hot meal each Saturday. For more information, contact Hicks at (919) 427-8889.
What's going on with Bread of Life Ministries these days?
Bread of Life Ministries continues to serve a vital role in the East Sanford community. Our Saturday "Meals for Life" lunch is serving between 175 and 200 meals every week. This particular outreach caters to anyone in the community who needs help with a good quality, nutritious, hot meal on any given Saturday. Walk-ins, individuals and families are all in attendance. The climate is warm, friendly and jovial as we witness neighbors helping neighbors. Relationships are fostered, and an encouraging word is always shared by the BOLM team leader prior to the commencement of the meal.
How does BOLM work in conjunction with other similar local charitable organizations?
BOLM makes and receives referrals from the other area help agencies on a fairly regular basis. Since our services do not necessarily overlap, but our client base does, people will often come to us needing a service we do not provide.
Because of that, I would like to take this time to appeal to the other "help agencies" in Sanford that we make an even greater effort to collaborate on providing services. Only by trusting God and working together will we be able to serve the needs of the community at large.
What role does drug use and abuse play in hunger, homelessness and need?
Surprisingly, drugs and alcohol are not the greatest cause for the financial dilemma that many, sub-poverty level Sanford residents find themselves in. They certainly are factors, but I believe the lack of necessary skills associated with obtaining and maintaining gainful employment also play a huge role in area poverty.
The downturn in the job market has also created an increase in the number of people who walk through our doors. Many sadly indicate to us that they have never had to turn to agencies for help, but they are left without resources after losing their jobs. We endeavor to help anyone who comes to our facility with the utmost dignity and respect. No matter what the cause of the situation we see in front of us, everyone deserves to have someone who truly believes that things can get better. BOLM tries to encourage people to never stop reaching and striving to improve. We have observed, over the seven-plus years that we have operated out of the McIver Street School Auditorium, that some take hold of the message, and some unfortunately do not.
What about local churches … what role are they playing in BOLM?
Churches in Lee, Chatham and Harnett counties, and individual partner groups, are invaluable. Faithful BOLM partners and volunteers are the reason for any successes we have. They continue to show up week after week with food or to host food drives; some come and grill out on the spot, while others come with prepared food. But no matter what, they all show up with joy, enthusiasm and love. I believe this has to be one of the most giving communities I have been blessed to be a part of.
You've been homeless yourself … what's the message about that you'd like to share with the community?
I thank God for allowing us to serve our community ... . I personally know what it is like to be down and out with few options. A loving "neighbor" can change a life ... I have seen that work in both directions!
Please contact us if you would like more information or desire to help in any way ... . This is going to be an exciting year. Help us, along with the other area charities, make a real impact in 2013. Let's let God's love be demonstrated through each of us!