Amanda Mae Steele
Neighbor Serving Neighbor
It’s amazing how quickly a group can mobilize when it is united on a cause bigger than itself.
One of my neighbors posted a desire to participate in the trending neighborhood “quarantine photos”, and that’s when I knew I had to speak up: I had something similar brewing in my heart but wasn’t sure when or how to do it - yet once the idea was spoken out into the world, the plan quickly gained momentum, and things fell beautifully into place.
I felt an urge to help our greater community somehow so I polled the neighbors on who they thought we could donate to for my photography services. Several people commented, "GraceWorks Ministries - they're awesome!" So I decided to check it out.
Around this time last year, I randomly sat next to the president/CEO of GraceWorks, Valencia Breckenridge. I didn't know who she was but by the end of the service we found we had something in common (we're both extensive notetakers!), and she gave me her card. Unfortunately we didn't end up connecting, but I decided to dig up her e-mail address and ask if she'd be willing to chat about this new idea. I didn't expect her to give me a call back directly - I've worked in and around non-profits a lot and know that it's not easy to get a hold of the president.
To my surprise, Valencia did call me herself and was very patient as we texted and coordinated when we could chat on the phone. When we finally spoke she was humble and genuinely grateful that our community wanted to help out our Neighbor.
GraceWorks Ministries has served people in need in Williamson County for 25 years, primarily through their thrift store (which is currently closed) and food pantry, which is still open from Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. Valencia told me their greatest need was financial but that they were also out of items in their pantry - including the ever-so-coveted toilet paper.
I did some basic math based on the 57 families Valencia told me had visited the food pantry last Friday and presented some numbers to Creekstone (our community). Not only did my Neighbors exceed the financial goal I suggested, I also collected 20 rolls of TP and a big box of shelf food items I didn't even ask for!
But there was an even greater blessing in all of this: the gift of connection. I got to know my Neighbors' names, hear their stories, and get a glimpse into their heart and soul. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and love as I combed the streets of our neighborhood. Kindness and joy radiated from each family and it was infectious - the kind of infection we all definitely need right now. Although COVID-19 is something to be grieved, my goodness, I don't know that the world has ever experienced this outpouring of love, grace, and mercy, since the first Easter day.
Soli deo gloria - to God be the glory.
<3 amanda mae
To learn more about GraceWorks Ministries, visit: https://www.graceworksministries.net/