Labor of love aids nonprofits

First Presbyterian Lent meals generate donations
Apr. 25, 2013 @ 11:05 AM

Women at First Presbyterian Church used the Easter holiday to help raise money for four local nonprofits that continue to struggle amidst the slow economy.
Shirley Byrnes, chairman of the First Presbyterian Women, on Monday presented $400 checks to Meals on Wheels, Cooperative Community Ministries, Habitat for Humanity of the Thomasville area and the Shepherd's Inn. First Presbyterian Women collected $1,600 in donations from six Lenton lunches leading up to Easter Sunday as a way to give back to organizations that help meet community needs.   
"It's a time when all the nonprofits need some help," Byrnes said.  "W'e're just happy that we can do something. It's a Labor of Love for our ladies." 
Hit so hard by the national recession, Cooperative Community Ministries was forced to scale back its services last year in an effort to keep up with the growing demand for food and financial assistance. Clients now only can receive financial assistance once a year and food once a month. Executive Director Stephanie Strickland said more than 450 clients came to CCM last month and more show up every day.
"We've had to streamline services to fit those needs," said Strickland. "We're stretching it as far as we can. We rarely make it through the day without at least one new person coming in."
With donations still lagging way behind growing demand, Strickland said efforts from organizations like First Presbyterian Women are most appreciated.  
"These wonderful ladies are going to help out a lot with this donation," Strickland said. "They always know what's going on and they're aware of our needs. They participate in many ways and it's not just through the Lenton lunches. They're donating food on a regular basis."
Marti Baity with the Shepherd's Inn, Thomasville's lone homeless shelter, said high utility bills strains the Inn every month. The Shepherd's Inn houses 16 men, who must meet a strict criteria  to stay there. Baity said the economy has led to some trying times for her and her all-volunteer staff. 
"Sometimes it gets real discouraging and we feel like we may have to close the doors," said Baity. "It seems like all of a sudden something comes through to help keep us open. [First Presbyterian Church] have always helped us a great deal and we've always appreciated those ladies."
Inflated gas prices are making it difficult for Meals on Wheels to maintain its six Thomasville routes that includes close to 100 people who can't get out and live completely alone. Meals on Wheels serves homebound people who, without the service, may be forced to move into assisted living.
"They don't have anyone," said Jackie Moore with Meals on Wheels. "All of the money that comes in goes directly to pay for food. [The economy] hits us in both areas as far as money coming in to pay for food and for our volunteers with gas prices going up. This service helps keep people in their homes. We really appreciate any time anybody can give."
Habitat for Humanity helps put low income families in affordable housing.  

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or