From her years working as a nurse, Irene Chappell, member of the Petersburg (Va.) church knows hospitals have unique needs that the average person might not think of. “It’s a little known fact that many victims of rape, assault, abuse, car accidents and even people in the psych ward are often released from the hospital wearing nothing more than a gown,” explains Annemarie Meyer, who has worked with Chappell to create a team that ministers to these needs at local hospitals. “Clothes are sometimes collected for evidence, are torn or bloodied at the scene of an accident and many hospitals do not have everyday clothes available for patients when they go home. People deserve to leave the hospital with more dignity.”
After making an announcement at church and leaving a box in the lobby for people to drop of donations, Chappell and Meyer were thrilled to have 23 outfits to deliver to the hospital on their first visit. Each time that number has grown. On their fourth and most recent visit, they were able to deliver 101 outfits.
“The response from hospital staff has been wonderful,” says Meyer. “This ministry was featured on the back page of the hospital’s newsletter, which I’ve been told by some employees is a pretty big deal. Usually huge donations or new procedures or equipment are announced on the back.” Meyer said they shared this newsletter with Petersburg members, allowing them to see how people were being blessed by this ministry.
In addition to the hospital ministry, Petersburg members hosted ‘thank you’ pancake breakfasts for the local police, fire and EMS departments. “There has been so much turmoil and
controversy in the states, that we wanted to let our local police know that we are grateful for their protection,” says Meyer. Both of these powerful ministries originated from the small, but mighty women’s ministries group, after the director, Angie McFarland, challenged them to find creative outreach projects.
To top it off, this church, which has an average attendance of about 80 people, also has a food pantry, founded and led by Thelma Blackwell who retired earlier this year and now lead by Ronald Smith. The pantry was selected as one of the best and most unique in the area by a local magazine. “Most give people pre-selected packages,” says Meyer. “We created a grocery store-like atmosphere instead, and have tables set up for people to select what they’d like.” There’s also a table set up with literature.
“It’s important for us to serve and love the community the way Jesus would,” says Meyer.