“Our goal is to empower those in need through compassionate emergency care, life education and community development,” says this Ken Flemmer, director of Adventist Community Services of Great Washington (Silver Spring, Md.) and member of the Sligo church. This spring, ACSGW celebrated its 33rd anniversary with a grand reopening to show off renovations and to celebrate renewed possibilities.
Written by ACSGW and Potomac staff
While, in the late ’70s, the Silver Spring, Sligo and Takoma Park (Md.) Seventh-day Adventist Churches joined forces to establish the community service organization, it has since grown to include the support of many Adventist churches in the area, including those in conferences other than Potomac. The center was built in 1983 and the building and programs offered continue to evolve in order to best serve the community. Today, the center’s Holiday Giving Project is one of the largest food programs in Montgomery County (Md.), which in 2015 alone, helped provided over 1,400 families holiday baskets.
Churches and organizations rallied behind the center when two unfortunate plumbing disasters threatened to compromise operation. Donations allowed for the appropriate repairs, in addition to replacing the roof, carpeting and overhauling the parking lot. “We believe that having a respectable facility is an important piece of reality,” comments Flemmer. “It conveys a positive and uplifting aura. If a building is shabby with signs of neglect it suggests that the programs and services are of similar quality.”
Each year, ACSGW serves over 6,000 disadvantaged families with monthly food parcels and clothing. Additionally, the training offered at the center has a reputation in the community for being exceptional and relevant to the current job market. Programs have been developed to empower participants to attain long-term solutions to their economic health and well-being. “We believe that empowering the individual with knowledge, skills and abilities to attain self-sufficiency creates healthy, thriving communities,” says Flemmer
Youth development is another important component of the mission. Sets of activities with known academic benefits and a unique curriculum are offered, aimed to hold students’ long-term interest. For the past few summers, ACSGW has also held free summer camps that teach skills like swimming and instruction in computers and hardware refurbishing.
“The center has comes a long way from its humble beginnings,” says Susan Harrington Carey, the first Community Services Director at the Sligo Church Community Services Center. “I worked alongside Pastor Herb Thruber, the driving force behind the center. He was a diligent worker for the Lord in getting this center to come a reality. Look where it is today and how much good has come from his efforts! I will pray that ACSGW continues to be a light in the community, showing Jesus’s sweet love and compassion for those closest and dearest to His heart.”