November 14, 2020, Shawnee Village, Shawnee, OK
Shawnee, Oklahoma, an old town with a bright future! Shawnee’s first school was started in 1872 and its first Post Office started operations in 1876. Needless to say, Shawnee has been around for a long time. Founded at the crossroads, or should I say ‘cross-trails’ of cattle drives from a bygone era, Shawnee has grown and prospered into what it is today. With the railroads coming in during the late 1800’s, Shawnee was a busy, bustling bundle of energy. At one point, someone estimated that during the height of rail travel, there was an average of 42 passenger trains and 65 freight trains arriving at the local train station in Shawnee every day!
Today, after all those many trains have come and gone, Shawnee is still a bustling, busy place with a lot of great people who have chosen this as home. From a 97 year old who still has lots of energy to the single moms, Shawnee Village is filled with a diverse, energetic group of those who call this their home. Many have lived in this community for years, sometimes decades and have come to love this place as no other.
Several local churches helped make this a great week and a wonderful project day for Impact Cares. They came to help, to build, to paint, to do repairs but above all, those that came were there to help, to bless, to encourage and to simply love on people. It seems during this current state of affairs our country is living in, people are more and more searching for hope, for meaning and for simple community. For sure, the community part can be found in Shawnee Village. The meaning and the hope aspects can be found in the bibles Impact Cares hands out!
One resident, who has been through the proverbial ‘wringer’, has been helped get back on his feet by a local ministry group. They’ve helped him get clean from drugs, found him a place to stay, helped him find a job and today he forms part of the community at Shawnee Village. One of those who are part of this ministry found out we had done some work on her friend’s home and was so thankful she invited us to her restaurant to feed us one night. In other words, there are some great things happening at Shawnee that many if not most people will never see.
One older couple was helped with some improvements including some deck repairs and power washing of their home and staining of their back deck. Little did we know that this was the deck where the lady loved to sit and chat with her neighbors and ‘catch-up’. This couple has a number of health concerns and the chance to be able to pour into their lives and in so doing be a blessing to many others is always encouraging.
As we come to the close of another successful, busy, chaotic year, it is good to take a bit of time and reflect on where we’ve come from. Impact Cares started the year in Texas but shortly after we were forced to shut down our main ministry of going into communities and being a blessing. So, we looked for other ways to continue the work, albeit in a slightly different fashion. In several communities, we sponsored ‘bear-hunts’ for the kids. Some stuffed toy bears would be hid around the community and the kids would go on a ‘bear hunt’ to see who could find the most bears. In some communities, Impact Cares provided supplies for residents to paint their own homes, if they were willing to help paint one of their neighbors’ homes as well. By early summer we were pretty much up and running although the number of volunteers was way down. Impact Cares continued to go into communities and do what we do, bless, encourage and see a measure of transformation happen in every community.
As we look forward to 2021, first let’s pray this year is not a repeat of 2020! Then let’s keep our eye on the ball and keep looking forward and finding new ways to bless, encourage and see transformation happen in communities across the country!
Russ Ooms on behalf of Impact Cares