Growing Our Community
On Monday, January 21, 2013, young leaders from UALR Children International’s Youth Council and the Central Little Rock Promise Neighborhood’s Promise Ambassadors joined forces to help “Grow Our Community” by participating in this year’s MLK Day of Service. Hosted by Oak Forest United Methodist Church, these 40 youth leaders along with members of UALR-CI staff spent their day uniting to give back to the local community. Dwayne, a youth in the Promise Ambassador’s program, opened the Day of Service with a fitting quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”
Pastor Rush Breshears of Oak Forest UMC headed the annual event, welcoming volunteers from UALR Children International, the Central Little Rock Promise Neighborhood, UALR School of Social Work, and Trinity United Methodist Church. “We’re so thankful that so many young people came out to help us with our efforts” said Pastor Breshears. “This is the largest turnout we’ve had since its inception”.
Kayla, a seventh grader at eStem Public Charter School enjoyed participating because it gave her an opportunity to be more active in the community. “I would encourage other youth to set their standards higher,” she said. “Always look beyond your local community for opportunities to serve.”
The volunteers were dispersed to several locations cleaning and beautifying offices and clinics inside and out. Along with the church’s grounds and those of UALR Children International and the Lion’s World Services for the Blind facility located just down the street, several health clinics with biblically befitting names also received some much needed attention.
The Oak Forest UMC’s eye clinic, Bart’s Place, is named after blind Bartimaeus who had his site restored by Jesus. The counseling center, Barnabas House, is named for one of Paul’s missionary partners who went out and spread the gospel. Barnabas means ‘the encourager’, which is exactly what volunteers from the UALR School of Social Work do for those who find refuge behind its doors. Shepherd’s Hope is the church’s medical and dental clinic formed in partnership with Fellowship Bible Church. The clinic offers medical and dental services to uninsured residents in the Midtown area of Little Rock.
The day was hugely successful and helped build a strong sense of community. “We’re so grateful to see so many young people come out and sacrifice their day off from school,” says Nancy of Oak Forest UMC. “We’ve never had this many youth come out to get involved.”
Everyone ended the day with an immense sense of accomplishment, collecting 70 bags of leaves and yard debris on the UALR-CI grounds alone. The youth closed out the four hour event at the offices of CI with lunch and some much needed refreshments. The event connected people from all age groups and walks of life and gave everyone involved a warm sense of community.
For more information about Oak Forest United Methodist Church visit them online at www.oakforestumc.com.