April 16, 2012 Leave a comment
LifeLine CDC has a saying: “Everyone no matter how rich has a need. Everyone no matter how poor has a gift. That is why we build and celebrate community.” ™ We were able to experience that again with one of our partners in Winton, California, a small rural community with over 30% unemployment. There four men have stepped forward, giving abundantly of their gifts despite hard times.
Two years ago David, a Winton community member, returned to Winton after finishing his 4 year college degree in Business. He returned hoping to find a job but was unable to do so. Instead he started volunteering at the Winton Community Center. Last year David assisted at the Community Center with the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, and this year he headed up the program. The VITA program helped over 70 individuals and families get their taxes prepared for free and brought over $80,000 back into the community. These low-income families had no other way to get their taxes done during these difficult economic times, and were so thankful for the service.
Winton LifeLine Community Center is a site for the Work Experience Program for the County. These men and women work at the Winton Community Center for a few hours a day learning new skills and helping them with the community work. George and Francisco came to work with the center because they could not find employment. During the many conversations we found that both have amazing gifts in auto mechanics and are generally able to fix just about anything.
The first project they worked on was a passenger bus that belongs to LifeLine CDC and is being used in Winton. This bus is being used for transporting the youth to do the graffiti abatement, assist moving people, picking up and dropping off donations, and transporting senior citizens to special events.
After successfully fixing the bus they worked on several other projects. As the team talked about exchanging gifts they came up with the idea of having a car repair clinic. What if these men would help some of the seniors get some minor repairs done and teach some of the community members to do their own maintenance … that would be a blessing for everyone! So the plans are being made to have a community wide ‘car clinic’ and the contacts with the Vintage Car Club will make this an even bigger event!
At the same time Chico came to the center and starting volunteering his time. In his broken English he stated one day: “I will start cleaning your bathroom. You don’t have to worry about it anymore. I will do it for Jesus and I know how to do it good.” We thanked him and he said “No, thank you, you give me purpose again.”
All four men felt useless, unemployed, and under-used and yet in the context of community conversations all got to use their gifts and abilities to help others.
When we say that everyone has a gift, we mean it! So, not a day goes by when we don’t discover one more gift that makes the community richer, that brings the Shalom of God into the neighborhood. When David assists someone with taxes, he blesses the community, when George and Francisco fix the cars they bless the community, when Chico cleans the bathroom he blesses the community. We often hear about the ‘tipping point’ and we are looking forward to the time when the teams slogan “Putting Winton on the map for something good” becomes a reality!