After hearing that unkempt properties were a major source of community concern, volunteers are fanning out in the Wilson Road neighborhood to clean up the community through the Helping Hands ministry.
The outreach was re-birthed this fall by Union Avenue Baptist Church Pastor Dewayne Madaris. His father, Robert M. Madaris, started Helping Hands years ago to help widows and shut-ins, but the project fizzled out.
A branch of the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group that began monthly meetings in early 2016, the revitalized Helping Hands recently took on its first project, a home at the intersection of Happy Valley Road and Union Avenue. Wilson Road Neighborhood Group founder David Roden said the homeowner allowed volunteers to come in and help out by loading up trash, furniture and appliances into a trailer to haul off to the Walker County Landfill.
Madaris said the homeowner has health problems and was unable to clean up the property, which sits next to the entrance to his church.
"People submit names to us of properties [in need of a cleanup] and we evaluate them and look for our next project" Roden said. "The idea of the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group is the cleaner the community is, the more people will want to live here and [the] less crime [there will be]. We wanted to clean up the northern end of Walker County."
Madaris said the goal is to clean up one property per month in the Wilson Road area of Rossville.
"There's always a need, and we can meet that need," he said. "I think this sheds some light on it.
"We don't do it for recognition or pay. If they want to donate something towards it, we use it for Gatorade or gas. You just do it because you love the Lord and love people and want to help."
Madaris said he hopes the hand up offered by him and fellow volunteers helps spread the kind of love Christ showed the world.
"We always give a little witness while there and invite them to church. We've already had people join because of that and they help us now help others," he added.
Madaris expects to begin taking on more projects after the holidays. In the meantime, the group is working to identify volunteers with special skill sets: hanging sheetrock and repairing roofs, for example.
"We filled out two pages on what people can do and we will put together a resource directory for our community," he said. "We are trying to help lighten the load and the burdens of life. Everybody likes to be loved."