Saturday, August 29, 2020
The Franklin Woods community located in Niles, MI is a community filled with a great diversity of folks! Niles has historically been known as the ‘City of Four Flags’ due the diversity of the nations that have flown their flag over the area. There was a French fort that flew their flag in 1697. After 1761 the British flew their flag for a time and then during the Revolutionary War, for a brief time the Spaniards from Spain flew their flag. The current flag of the US now flies with pride over this great community. Such is the city of Niles and this diversity is well represented in the people of Franklin Woods.
Impact Cares was onsite for a couple of weeks prior to August 29 and what an amazing bunch of people they came into contact with. On the actual project day we had 11 volunteers from local churches, 16 Impact employees and 29 residents who came out to lend a hand. Much was accomplished, lives were impacted and many improvements were made which all added up to a successful week. Let me share a few of the stories.
Many days started with something for the kids: a game time, a snack and a short Bible lesson, in short it was a ‘mini-version’ of what is commonly called ‘Vacation Bible School’. The kids loved it, stories, snacks and water fights! The kids were impacted but so were the adults. One resident in his 70’s was an absolute delight! If you had the privilege of spending a bit of time with him, you always left feeling encouraged. He cared about his neighbors and it showed.
Another resident who is in the last stages fighting a disease, who is no longer able to leave her home, had some brush cleaned up around her house. Her comment was notable, ‘Now when her family comes to say goodbye, they will see a beautiful house instead of a mess.’ It was such a joy for the Impact Cares team and volunteers to bring joy into this lady’s life!
One resident, a bit on the ‘grumpy’ side when the day started ended up with a big smile! She was told that she had been ‘nominated’ to have some work done by one of her neighbors. At first she wasn’t so sure about all this and watched the goings on with an ‘eagle-eye’. While having her home power washed, she said she would like to take a turn and see if she could do it. She did and ended up loving it and noted her home hadn’t been cleaned since they lived there. She was so thankful for all the work that was done.
Among many highlights of the week, we had two young boys, ages 12 and 13 who proved to be a big help and a great encouragement for all. They came to the games, and then came with us as we talked with a variety of the residents, one even introducing himself as part of the Impact Cares team! These guys were even willing to help finish up some projects later that the team was not able to finish that day! There’s hope for the next generation!
In this diverse community, you run across all sorts of people in different places in life. One resident was a picture of ‘sad’ when the team first met him. He had lost his wife to cancer in the recent past and was really struggling. The Impact Cares team cleared some brush and dead trees around his home. We found out it was also his 65th birthday the day we were there. So, after all the work was done, with his daughter and grandkids standing around him we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ which became like a wreath of honor for him. What a great way it was to encourage and bless this resident.
Once again, the Impact Cares team was not only impacted themselves but was able to have an impact on this community!
Russ Ooms - on behalf of the Impact Cares Team.