When local police mentioned they’d like a place where officers could unwind, the Beltsville Seventh-day Adventist Church members (Md.) responded. Six months of work and promise culminated in September with the grand opening of a courtyard for Beltsville (Md.) Police Precinct #6. The police invited members who built the patio for the police as a gift to express the church’s appreciation for officers’ faithful service.
The story began back in April. Beltsville leaders invited police to the church so they could pray for them. “We wanted to say ‘thank you’ for their service to our community, but we also wanted to pray for their safety,” explained senior pastor Tim Madding.
Members asked if there was something more tangible they could do to help the police. The request was for help to create a courtyard where officers could unwind from the stresses of their job. The precinct had space behind the station, but they didn’t have time, expertise or funds to build the courtyard. Members responded with a plan that included donating picnic tables, a grill, building a walkway in the shape of a cross and planting flower beds. Members from the church volunteered and recruited others from the Filipino American Adventist Church (Beltsville, Md.) and the Beltsville Police Explorers group to help finish the project.
More than 50 members cleared overgrowth, dug out excess dirt, moved underground electrical wire, chopped out tree roots, brought in pressure-treated lumber, made picnic tables, installed a grill and planted flowers. And volunteers tackled the biggest task of all – digging out, leveling and putting in pavers for the walkway.
The September picnic marked the official opening of the courtyard, but the grill showed signs of use before the opening as several officers talked about having used the courtyard and expressed their thanks for the new site that lets them get away from the stresses of the job. Claudio Consuegra, member of the Beltsville church and a chaplain for the Prince George’s County Police, was instrumental in the genesis of the project and said even a few minutes break in a quiet place can help officers refocus.
Major Kara Lloyd presented Madding with the District Commanders Award as recognition for leading the church in creating a courtyard for the officers in Beltsville’s Precinct 6 station. “The officers use the courtyard all the time,” she said in expressing her thanks to the church. The award read, “In appreciation of your efforts to renovate the courtyard at the District VI Station. Your hard work has provided a place of beauty and serenity for the officers of our Station to enjoy. Your dedication and service to the community are admirable, and we are truly grateful for your partnership, your kindness, and your friendship.”
Each Thanksgiving, members also show their thanks to local police officers and firefighters by delivering thank you notes and homemade cookies to the stations as part of the church’s ongoing community involvement.
The church’s largest contribution to the community, however, is the Beltsville Adventist Community Center, located behind the church at the corner of Ammendale, Old Gunpowder and Powder Mill roads, just off I-95. The center houses a branch office of the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, so Beltsville residents who need assistance have a nearby office that seldom has a long wait.
The center also offers emergency help with food, housing and other needs. It offers longer-range help with job search and job-seeking skills, and it has launched a counseling service this fall. The center is open from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
story by Kermit Netteburg