Methodists volunteer as painting crew

Volunteers from the First United Methodist Church in Concordia turned up, paint brushes in hand, this morning (April 30)  to help Neighbor to Neighbor with its next big project.

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The church members — Dallas Nading, Mike and Marsha Wentz, Harvey Olson and Mary Thoman — were there to paint the second-floor expansion of the women’s center in downtown Concordia. Joining them for the day was Sister Cecilia Green, who works at the Nazareth Motherhouse, and Sisters Jean Befort and Pat McLennon, two of the three women who run Neighbor to Neighbor.

This was the second time a volunteer crew from First United Methodist donated work at Neighbor to Neighbor. In October 2009, about 15 people from the church held a “demolition day” as part of the original renovation of the 122-year-old building on Sixth Street. After the renovation was completed, Neighbor to Neighbor opened in May 2010.

But within months it became clear that more space was needed for all the women and children who come to the center every day.

From Monday through Friday, Sisters Jean and Pat, along with Sister Ramona Medina, and a cadre of volunteers offer classes and services that range from one-on-one tutoring for GED exams and book studies to providing a place to do laundry or take showers and classes in sewing, baking, lacemaking and household budgeting. Individual counseling services are also available as needed, as is help in navigating the social services maze. And, for some moms, the center has become a place to go with their young children, to give the kids a chance to play and the moms a chance to befriend other moms.

There is never any cost to the women taking part; all the programs are offered free, with funding coming from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, a handful of grants and individual donations.

Planning began last fall to double the size of the center by renovating the second floor. Employees from the Motherhouse began work in December to create an art room, a private counseling or small meeting room, two more bathrooms, lots of storage space and a kitchenette that will look out over a large play area for children.

And once again, First United Methodist wanted to be part of the project.

A work day had been scheduled this winter for Methodist volunteers to help put insulation in the second-floor walls, but that project was canceled due to icy roads on the slated Saturday.

Instead, the volunteers waited for another opportunity to help — and they got it Saturday.

Curtis Mansfield, one of the Motherhouse maintenance employees who has been heavily involved in the renovation project, showed up early to make sure the volunteers had all the tools and supplies they needed. And Sister Jean worked downstairs in the kitchen to keep them supplied with coffee and snacks.

Greg Gallagher, facilities administrator for the Sisters of St. Joseph, expects the renovation to be completed later this spring.

The center remains open during the upstairs construction. The sounds of work on the second level sometimes competes with conversation on the main floor, but not enough to deter women from continuing to come to Neighbor to Neighbor.

The fund drive to pay for the renovation of the second floor is continuing as well. At $24.33 per square foot, donors may pay for the renovation of one foot, or 10 — or 100.

If you’d like to help support Neighbor to Neighbor or any of the sisters’ other ministries, you can make a donation through a secure server with Amazon Simple Pay, simply fill in the amount of your donation and then click on the Donate button:


2 thoughts on “Methodists volunteer as painting crew

  • May 14, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    It is as grass roots project, that is truly neighbor building. S.Anne

  • May 1, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Neighbor to Neighbor is no secret…to the local civic and church communities…nor to women and children using the support of N2N.

    Thanks to all for pitching in time, talent and financial support.

    Let the time, talent and support continue in order to create deeper and broader differences within Concordia.

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