Bland Ministry Center in Bland County, Virginia has been a destination for numerous missions trips sponsored by River Road Church across the years. Dee Dee Hoosier, director of the Bland Ministry Center, always has work projects planned for the volunteers. Usually there are construction projects such as construction of wheelchair ramps or repairs and improvements at area houses.
From September 18-24, 2017, twelve church members participated in a trip in memory of Lloyd Jackson who for many years coordinated the missions trips. Projects for this year’s trip included construction of a complicated wheelchair ramp for a home in Pocahontas and assembling of clothes racks for the Center’s new clothes closet.
Each morning the work crews awoke to a large breakfast prepared by Nancy Anderson, the ministry team’s cook for the week, packed their lunches and were off for the work site. When they returned in the late afternoon, a hearty and tasty meal was waiting.
The construction crew had a challenge to design a wheelchair ramp for a space with considerable limitations. Tom Kirkup drew a plan and the crew followed through. The recipients were most grateful. The construction crew included Tom Kirkup, Brock Livick, Ronnie Jones, John Hays, George Davis, Don Powell, and Ron Geisler.
The clothes closet crew worked in an area far more expansive than any “closet.” The existing clothes distribution area was small and cramped. Through a generous gift from a donor, the Center was able to construct a large metal building with half of the space as a showroom and the other half as the storage and processing area for clothing donations. The River Road volunteers assembled numerous clothing racks and tables and prepared a clothes hanging system. Their work enabled the new clothing facility to open on time.
The Center receives hundreds of boxes of clothing which has to be sorted and sized. Two volunteers from the area open the boxes as they arrive and process the items. When one of the volunteers was asked if she was still excited upon opening a new box, she replied, “No, the excitement left a long time ago. But the joy remains!”
The clothing facility crew from River Road consisted of Steve Lowery, coordinator of the mission trip, Betsy Lowery, Fred Anderson, and Jim Burns.
Another on-going ministry of the Center is food distribution. On a certain day of each week, people from the area form long lines to receive a box of food. Area volunteers had pre-sorted the boxes with a variety of food items. In addition, the Center provides donated furniture and operates a dental clinic.
Year after year, River Road Church has sent volunteers to assist in this on-going ministry in Southwest Virginia. As the clothing volunteer said, “The joy remains!”
Written by Fred Anderson
Originally published in the 2017 Winter Quarterly Explorer