PRAIRIE GROVE -- In the past 18 years, LIFE Ministries in Prairie Grove has given back $1.4 million to the community by providing food and clothes to those who need it and helping to pay essential costs such as utility bills and medical prescriptions.
For 2017, the ministry helped 5,440 people from 1,800 family units with food and clothing for an estimated value of $150,000. Around 93 volunteers gave more than 18,000 volunteer hours over the year.
Prairie Grove Christian Church hosts a volunteer appreciation luncheon each year as a way to say thank you. Everyone who helps volunteers their time. No one receives a paycheck.
This year's appreciation luncheon also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the ministry.
Long-time volunteer and former LIFE Ministries director Joyce Cooksey was honored for her years of service. Cooksey has volunteered 25 years and is stepping down from that role. She will remain as treasurer on the ministry's board of directors.
Cindy Dobbs, president of the board of directors, said Cooksey has been the "go-to person" at LIFE Ministries.
"Our friendship has developed through the years and she has been a wonderful inspiration to us all," Dobbs said.
Cooksey, 89, said she decided to retire from being an active volunteer because there are times she does not feel like getting up and going somewhere.
"I've enjoyed every minute of it," Cooksey said.
She started as an interviewer, gathering information from people who came in seeking help. The first director was Lila Dunhaur. When Dunhaur passed away, Cooksey became the new director and served in that position for 17 years. Lately, she has served as the receptionist greeting people.
She has no doubt God had his hand in the ministry for it to continue so many years.
"God intended for us to be a success at what we were doing," Cooksey said. "Otherwise, I don't think it would have happened."
LIFE Ministries started in the former Savings and Loan building with $500. Volunteers made improvements to the building and then donations started coming in.
"It's been a real community effort," Cooksey said.
Dobbs expressed appreciation to those who have helped in the past but noted, "What makes LIFE Ministries what it is are those who are here today."
State Rep. Charlene Fite attended the banquet and added to Dobbs' comments, "You are the people who really make a difference in the community. You are the face of Prairie Grove and when people have a need, they come to you."
Fite said the Bible commands "us to be the hands and feet to help others."
She commended all volunteers and especially the ones who are behind the scenes doing their part.
Becky Purcell, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Prairie Grove, quoted from Isaiah 43 in the Bible, which says in part, "When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned."
Purcell said volunteers with LIFE Ministries "are on the front lines of meeting with God's precious children when they are overwhelmed with life's circumstances."
LIFE Ministries, located at 881 Stills Road, is supported by many churches in Prairie Grove. The acronym stands for "Linking Individuals For Essentials." It is a faith-based, non-profit organization that provides assistance to families and individuals living in western and southern Washington County.
The ministry operates a resale store from half of its building and uses the other half to meet with clients who need assistance with food, clothing, utility bills, gas and prescription costs. Proceeds from the resale store are used to help those who need assistance.
The organization always needs volunteers or items in good condition donated to the thrift shop. Hours are 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Website: lifeministriesnwa.org.General News on 02/07/2018
Print Headline: LIFE Ministries: Giving Back To The Community