- Rick McCrabb Staff Writer
Life got a little easier this week for five Middletown families in need thanks to the efforts of a local church, its team of volunteers, and a Hamilton business.
Berachah Church, as part of its Hands & Feet Ministry, is renovating five homes this weekend and plans to unveil the improvements to the owners at 6 p.m. Sunday.
This is the 10th year the Middletown church has performed home improvement community service, said Clark Helvey, pastor of outreach and missions. The church has renovated 65 Middletown homes and built a handicapped-accessible playground named “Elley’s Hope,” in honor of the daughter of Berachah Pastor Lamar Ferrell and his wife, Maryanne. Elley was born with spina bifida.
Ferrell said while the renovations were being completed, the families — including a retired Middletown police officer, a woman with a disability, a man battling terminal cancer and a person with multiple sclerosis— were sent away until Sunday’s unveiling.
“We’re making some families really happy,” Ferrell said.
Some of the projects include installing windows, heat and air conditioning, painting and landscaping, and relocating a washer and dryer to make them more accessible. He estimated the value of the labor and materials at $100,000.
One of the renovations is taking place in the 1200 block of Barnitz Street. Volunteers from Berachah demolished the bathroom Thursday, then church volunteers and workers from FinPan Inc., a family owned Hamilton business for the last 40 years, installed a handicapped-accessible shower for the woman.
A large bathtub was removed and a shower, with a 2½-inch step, was installed. Now, the woman will be able to shower with less assistance from her husband, said Renee Robertson, national sales and marketing manager for FinPan. The company has partnered with Berachah before and was eager to help renovate the bathroom, Robertson said.
Ferrell said it’s important for members to take their message outside the walls of the church.
“To love is to serve and you can say you love, but we are showing the love of Jesus to those who have needs,” he said.
Berachah stands for “the place of blessing,” Ferrell said.
“Everywhere we go we want to be a blessing,” he said.
He was asked if if would be “easier” for his congregation and church leadership not to volunteer in the community. Why spend a weekend renovating the homes of strangers?
“We would not be fulfilling the commission that Jesus left us,” he answered. “We would be disobedient to our Lord.”