By Dee Swanson
A sign in a local party store reads, “Don’t just count your blessings; share them.” And that is exactly what Virginia Beach United Methodist Church sets out to do with its many ministries. One vital ministry is our Potter’s House through which we share our blessings by providing support for the homeless and working and non-working poor in our community by striving to meet their immediate needs.
Each month’s requirements are different, of course, but in one recent month, Potter’s House volunteers interviewed 186 clients, gave away 577 lunches, distributed hygiene items to 61 customers, paid for rent or utility assistance for 87 families, and pledged to help with rent or utilities for 48 families.
Whom do we help with financial assistance?
A mother who lost her infant and whose employer would not pay for the time off during her trying time of spiritual need; we assisted with her rent.
A woman who is caring for her elderly parents who lost her job and needed help to avoid having their water cut off. Her mother has dementia, and her 80-year-old father is unable to help.
An elderly couple–the man has leukemia and his wife took off work for a short time to care for him. We assisted with their utilities.
These are but a few examples of the financial assistance that allows us to share our blessings, but Potter’s House also provides bikes and bike repair service to people to use for transportation to and from work, a ministry handled by the careful leadership of Dave Moore. Clients must produce two weeks of pay stubs to be eligible for bikes.
In addition, Potter’s House offers help to the homeless to secure Commonwealth of Virginia IDs, birth certificates (domestic and foreign), and information about housing resources and services through PIN (People in Need) for those who need transportation to the Social Security Office, DMV, or beach clinics.
Leslie Shaffer, Director of Outreach and Missions, oversees all of these projects and works with a coalition of other churches to meet the financial demands of these ministries. Private companies also offer assistance: free provisions come from Harris Teeter (bread/pastries), Panera Bread (pastries), Three Shipps Coffee (coffee), Abbey Road Restaurant (ham), and Rockafeller’s Restaurant (soup during the winter months). These donations help us to share our blessings with so many in our community who just need a little help to meet their immediate needs; we are grateful for the assistance these establishments so graciously donate to help us meet these urgent community needs.
Potter’s House has occupied the building across the street from our church since June 1999. Its name comes from Isaiah 64:8:
“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou art the potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”
We recognize that the only way for us to become all that God desires us to be is to remain pliable in the Great Potter’s hands.
Potter’s House volunteers find this mission so rewarding because they can see their Christian love at work helping the less fortunate. To see the smile on the recipients’ faces and their sigh of relief that help is available provides instant gratification for the work that volunteers do through the prayerful assistance of the Virginia Beach United Methodist Church congregation.
If you would like to share your blessings through the Potter House ministry as a volunteer or as a financial partner, please email Leslie Shaffer or call 428-7727, extension 212. Donations may also be made by check with the memo designation “Potter’s House” and dropped in the Sunday offering plate.