By Ann Mann
A big dream came true this month for “Rebuild Lamar.” The non-profit organization received a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, and the group has already started putting the funds to work repairing homes in Lamar County. The Community Foundation presented the check to “Rebuild Lamar” Director Eddie Felton and Barnesville First United Methodist Pastor Ann Mann in a ceremony at the Barnesville Lamar County Library on July 14.
“Rebuild Lamar” is a ministry of church and community leaders, and exists to make home repairs for people who are not physically or financially able to do it themselves. Director Felton says, “This grant, more than anything, gives us hope. It means the community is starting to realize our role in making a better life for the people of Lamar County.” Niall Mathieson, one of the founding members, says, “This award will help rebuild between 5 and 10 more houses. The group spends between $2,500 and $5,000 on repairs per home, with a maximum of $10,000.”
Families interested in help from “Rebuild Lamar” can find the application at BarnesvilleFUMC.org. Click on the “Connect” tab, then click on “Rebuild Lamar.” The program is designed for people living below the poverty level. Applicants must also own their home
The dream began taking shape when County Commission Chair Charles Glass was talking to local woodturner Fred Morris about how to help a homeowner living with a tarp covering his leaking roof. The homeowner did not have the funds to make the needed repairs. They talked to Mathieson, who made calls to community leaders. The conversation moved to the New Covenant Sunday School class at Barnesville First UMC, where Mathieson is a member. Everyone agreed they could do more together than alone, and a ministry was born.
Gordon State College has helped by supplying volunteers. Local businesses like SIPM Roofing and Jordan Lumber have supplied free materials and cash donations. With this grant from the Community Foundation, even more families will be helped.
“Rebuild Lamar” Project Manager Josh Varnadoe says two projects were completed in their first volunteer outing. Three more projects got underway on July 23. One of the projects supplies the homeowner a clear pathway to a second exit. Another project will help a woman with cancer who does not have adequate bathroom facilities. The third project will help with repairs to the front and back porch of a resident battling cancer, and her daughter, living with Down’s Syndrome.
There are many ways to help. Varnadoe says, “There is a great need for licensed general contractors who will donate materials and services or do jobs at cost.” The grant is a great start. But Felton says more money will be needed to continue making a difference. Donations may be made through the Barnesville First UMC website, or by mail. Make checks payable to the church and write “Rebuild Lamar” in the notes section. Mail donations to Barnesville First UMC, 375 Thomaston Ave, Barnesville, GA, 30204.
(Ann Mann is an Emmy Award Winning Journalist serving as Pastor to Barnesville First UMC. If you have a story idea, please email email@example.com)