On both occasions it eloquently declared a commitment, one focused on lifting a hand and opening a heart to make a difference in the fragile lives of those whose futures teeter in the crosswinds between an act of kindness and a cold indifference.
“Empowering Women” came to us Thursday night in an annual fundraiser on behalf of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, a widely respected organization dedicating itself to developing the minds, boosting the confidence and strengthening the wills of young boys and girls who will grow to become adult men and women in our Cleveland and Bradley County hometown.
An inspiring eye-opener, the banquet featured three key award presentations to local heroines, as well as keynote addresses by two leading ladies — Jennifer O’Neill and Collette Murray — whose lives led them down different paths but whose eventual success stories came from within. We will have more to say on their personal experiences later in the week.
Twenty-four hours before “Empowering Women,” a group of homeless residents — people who are just down on their luck — at the Cleveland Emergency Shelter were served an Easter dinner by another set of hearts that were seeking to ignite a flame of caring and camaraderie in the neighborhoods of Southeast Cleveland.
These restless hearts belonged to the members of Remnant Empowerment Ministries, a relatively young congregation that worked in conjunction with Mount Eagle Baptist Church of Charleston to bring a dash of spirited hope, goodwill and nutrition to those with no sheltering roof nor comforting bed to give them refuge from the storms of a troubled life.
Black, white, men, women, boys and girls — Remnant Empowerment is led by church pastor Dr. Rhonda J. Ferguson. The group concentrates primarily on its street ministries and spends much of its Saturdays visiting the neighborhoods comprising 6th, Lay, Elrod and Pond streets, as well as Wildwood Avenue — older and lower income areas of our community where struggling residents have the same needs as anyone else.
Sometimes it’s just a kind word.
At others it’s a gentle voice asking, “How are you today?”
Like other congregations whose spirited members believe in sharing their message door-to-door, the same is true with Remnant Empowerment Ministries yet theirs is targeting residents in need in specific neighborhoods. This is a story similar to that told in past editions of our newspaper — of big-hearted agencies, civic groups and individuals who have taken it upon themselves, as a personal mission, to reach out to those whose lives are rarely touched by the gentle hands of another.
Remnant Empowerment is seeking to expand its work in these neighborhoods through a physical presence with food items and toiletries. The group was aided by several area businesses to bring Easter dinner to the Cleveland Emergency Shelter.
Last week indeed was a time of empowerment in our community.
It can be every week when hearts come together with minds that think alike — all focused on a shared cause, that of outreach and helping to make a difference in the lives of those who have lost their way or others who simply can’t seem to catch a break.
“Empower” is a good word, one whose truest strength lies within the pure hearts and moral conscience of those who seize it without expectation of material return.
It is people.
It is life.
It is alive and well within our Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County hometown.