Story by Marcia Ehlers
Over the last 25 years, many underserved families in the Dayton area have come to know the Good Neighbor House (GNH). GNH, Seventh-day Adventist urban ministry, provides food pantry services, clothing, household items, and medical and dental services. Over the past few years, Dayton has seen an increase of refugees, and this pandemic brought along a challenge to supply food to families who not only had varied dietary needs, but also a language barrier. GNH knew they had to reach out to their community partners for help, and the “net” was cast.
Kettering Adventist HealthCare came up with funding for this project. GNH contacted one of their food vendors in Cincinnati, who helped them establish a list of specialized items for immigrant families. The “net” was opened.
Darren Wilkins, principal at Spring Valley Academy (SVA), organized volunteers to help deliver the food items. He was also able to chart and map addresses of the families since quite a few children from the refugee community attend SVA.
But where could they store all the extra produce? Fred Goddard, owner of Goddard’s Painting and member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church left a voicemail with GNH staff, letting them know his box truck was available for use. So, the last stretch of the “net” came into place as a Goddard’s box truck pulled into the ministry’s parking lot. GNH volunteers Doug Brown and Johnathan Duffy helped pack both trucks full of these specialty food items. And the “net” was launched.
Wilkins “fishermen” then showed up, masked and ready to distribute boxes of food. And the “net” was hauled in. An estimated 140 families—about 575 people total—received the blessing of this food. Wilkins sent a wrap-up letter of the story of the “net.” He shared, “this is a great example of how our organizations can team up for the greater good. There is a small amount of food left over from the mountain we started with. GNH will distribute the rest from their food pantry.”
And again, as the Bible says, Jesus’s fishermen were “not able to haul [their catch] in, because of the quantity of fish” Good Neighbor House took the remains of this “fishing trip” and gave the food to 17 families who are members of the Springfield Spanish Church. They were also able to work with the Miami Valley Immigration Coalition helping fill food orders for 35 families.
We live in a time where masks, not fishing nets, are commonplace. But even from behind a mask, your words and hands are still free to launch a net of faith and share the quantity of blessings you haul back.
To donate, visit goodneighborhouse.org