A Caring Place

This is the old orginal Caring Hands Ministries website.
Come in and enjoy a visit with us here and then for current information please come to www.caringhandsministries.com


Do you know this song?

Jesus loves me this I know, For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong we are weak but He is strong

Yes Jesus loves me. yes Jesus loves me.
Yes Jesus loves me. Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me when Iím good, when do the things I should
Jesus loves me when Iím Bad, though it makes Him very sad


Caring Hands Ministries works to be a practical demonstration of Jesusí love. We reach out to people in need and those who serve them in NE GA. Our home base is Cleveland, GA "The Gateway to the Mountains". Our vision is to serve the entire Southern Appalachian region. The people we serve have many different needs: food, shelter, medicine, help to prevent utility shutoffs or evictions, help for children or other family members with special needs, employment assistance, counseling, etc. Sometimes we can meet the need ourselves. Often we work with other agencies to coordinate assistance and be sure needs are met and services are not duplicated.

We also work to assist and encourage those who minister to people in need as they struggle to meet needs that would be overwhelming if it were not for the grace and strength of God. Many of these people serve at great personal sacrifice putting the needs of others ahead of their own. Our I Care Award program is designed to recognize and encourage such beautiful servants of God.

Sometimes it helps to remember Jesus was born in a borrowed manger, spent part of his childhood as an immigrant hiding from government persecution and 3 1/2 years of his adult life with no certain address. He understands.


As we walk through this day together please don't just watch what we do. Ask Jesus to open your eyes to see ways you can touch the people around you too. Please share your ideas with us we really need your help.

Since this is a 'typical" day I'll be running hard to be on time -oh OK I'll be late- because the phone woke us before daylight. The first call was from a family who may loose their children because DFACS got a complaint about their living in a broken down car. Living in a car is not illegal here but once the car stops running it becomes an "abandoned vehicle" and that can be considered deprivation. There are over 3000 homeless kids in this area and less than 60 shelter beds for kids so often a family has little real choice but to stay in their car. Most of the beds are in shelters that operate nights only so even a mother with a tiny baby must be out every morning, no matter what the weather even if the baby is not well. There is no shelter at all here is White County. Until the building that housed our shelter was listed for sale and we needed to move out Caring Hands operated the only shelter in the County. It was also the only one except L.A.M.P. in a 5 county area counties that would take an intact family or a mom with teenage boys or a daddy and his daughters. Please join us in praying for another place. In the meantime our volunteers continue to open their homes to folks when they can but there are so many more needs than we can meet that way.

The second call was Mary from L.A.M.P. She called for help with their ministry. We'll go see them this afternoon. Meanwhile, they are closer to the family in the car and will go and see about them before work this morning.

A grandmother called with wonderful news but she needs our help to make it a reality. Her son and his family have finally been approved for an apartment in public housing after living for over a year in a camper with no bathroom and just a little kerosene heater. His disability check will cover the rent but they need deposits for the apartment and for water and utilities and the housing people need to know today if they will have the money. That will take a few phone calls but we will get help for them somehow. (Within a week they are in a real apartment with running water, shower, stove, refrigerator, and a cupboard full of food.)

The next call tells us that a homeless man for whom we have been trying to find an apartment is in the hospital very sick. Someone will need to see him today if we are to have one last opportunity to lead him to the Lord.

Then there are 2 "easy" calls, families w/ small babies who need food and diapers. We refer the one who has nothing even for breakfast to a church near them whose food pantry hours are 10-12 and get both addresses to take them emergency food packages. The last call is from Sonja's neighbor. We found a church to help Sonja get her power turned back on. Now her neighbor has a shutoff notice.

Our first stop is at Mervin's house. Mervin is in her 80's. She fell on Christmas eve a couple of years ago and broke her wrist and cracked her pelvis, 2 years ago before that she broke her hip, 2 years before that she broke the other hip. She has a lot of pain but oh how she loves Jesus and loves to share his love. Mervin takes care of our on going food distribution. Today is the day to take food to the elderly and shut in so Mervin will call her "regulars" -about 23 people most of them elderly and homebound, and let them know what is available and then fix food packages for them. The calls are important she tells me to keep the help from being impersonal and let the people know she is concerned about them. She will pay special attention to any non-food needs so she can be "on the look out" as she puts it for whatever is needed. We need someone to help regularly to make up the packages and then deliver them since Mervin can't go and do it herself. The truth is she is not really able to keep doing this at all but it means so very much to her to do it. Another 10 or 11 families will come to pick up food for themselves or for friends and neighbors. Each one will stay a while to chat, and tell Mervin about their troubles. She'll pray with them and for them and they will leave knowing she loves them and Jesus does too. Mervin is a member of our Caring Hands Executive Board and brings us the benefit of over 50 years of helping people in this corner of the mountains. You can get to know her better by clicking on the I CARE AWARD LINK. We presented her with a Lifetime of Caring Award the first year we did these awards.

We have a lot of stops to make so we had better get on the road. Let's stop by at Sally's* (* ministry names and personal are correct. Others are changed to protect privacy) next and see her new baby. He's beautiful and she is so glad to see us. "Look how strong he is! The doctors got me all worried for nothing. They tried to tell me that because I didn't gain weight and was sick all the time there would be something wrong with him. I knew it would be ok once you helped me get this place and we were eating regular again." Sally hasn't accepted Jesus as her Savior yet. She always wants me to pray with her and one day when I ask if she will ask Him into her heart she will say yes. Or maybe she'll call me and say she really did start back to church and was saved there. Soon, please, Lord!

We'll go up the Hill to Margie's. I wouldn't normally go today because someone will come with food from Mervin's. But you just have to meet Margie. She's so special. Margie is 90+, blind and in a wheelchair but oh the love of Jesus that shines out of her. Margie is a client but she's a helper too. When we first started working for the Lord here Margie was one of my best guides. Hospital stays in childhood had taught her the customs of my world outside the mountains and she saved me from many blunders and opened many doors. She taught me by telling me stories that showed the mountain ways especially ways that were different from the outside. She was my eyes and ears too which sounds strange to say about a housebound blind lady. But if anyone was hurting or in trouble Margie was likely to know about it and to be able to tell me how to approach them so they would be able to accept help and not have their self respect hurt. "When a person has a herd of cows each one is important but not half so important as when there is only one cow anywhere in the neighborhood." she told me. "Pride is a lot like that. When it's all you have left it can get so important you'd rather not eat than give it up." Margie helped me so much especially when Mervin was in the hospital and I couldn't go to her for guidance. My strongest memory when I think of Margie is the day we first had toilet paper in the food boxes. She turned the roll over and over and held it up to her face. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she told me "God always knows just what I need. I used the last this morning and there'll be no money to buy more till Tuesday." I suppose you can guess that bathroom tissue, soap and similar products have been on our wish list ever since. We put them in our food packages whenever we can get them.

Now we have to drive to Gainesville and check on a couple of homeless families and on one who has just moved into a trailer with our help. We'll take them some start-up groceries and you'll get to meet Suzi. Suzi is one of my favorite 5 year olds. She is so happy to have a home again. "This is my place. I live here." She tells everyone who comes "See, we can even shut the door and no one will get mad." Privacy is almost nonexistent in most shelters and even the kids feel it.

Many people think homeless parents don't work. A lot of times they do. But at minimum wage a single working parent with one or more preschool children faces an almost impossible challenge. Just do the math. 40 hours at $5.50 = $220 gross and $165-175 after taxes. Subtract at least $40 a week for childcare = $125 to $135. A semi rundown trailer around here rents for $100-$125 a week. That leaves anywhere from nothing to $35 a week for food, lights, heat, gas to get to work, minimum car insurance (We have no buses here and a taxi is at least $5 one way for every trip and often 4 times that), soap, shampoo, toilet paper, and all the other things a family has to have. If somehow by the grace of God and maybe food stamps and/or child support a parent can manage on this budget what happens when the car wears out a tire or needs even a minor repair? Or if one of the kids gets sick and the parent must miss work to take care of him? Or what if the parent gets sick too? Sometimes we can help keep a family from becoming homeless by helping with missed rent, or with a light or water bill. Often less than $200 can make a difference, sometimes a whole lot less. Last week it was a $40 water bill.

Next we go to Mary's. Their ministry is called LAMP. You'll want to visit them again and you can. Just click on our I CARE AWARDS link below or on the L.A.M.P. link. Mary and her husband Ruben spend almost nothing on their own needs. All they have goes into the ministry. "Is it just us or is every ministry struggling this year?" Mary asks. "We can barely keep going every day. But we have to do something for the children and the kids coming out of the gangs." We pray about the light bill. I'll make some calls tonight when I get home and see if we can get them some help with it. It would be a lot easier if Caring Hands had funds to meet the needs but usually we are struggling to find funds too. But often we can find a church or group to help or 3 or 4 to each help out a little. You may have some ideas too. We're glad to listen.

Before we leave LAMP Mary introduces us to the mom of the family from the car. The dad is out with Ruben talking with someone about a job. The baby is asleep on Mary's bed and the 3 older kids will need to be picked up at school. Mary assures us they will make room for them for a few days - where exactly she isn't sure but they'll manage somewhere. I'll make some more calls when I get home and see if we can find 2 or 3 churches that will help with the deposit on a trailer for them. The car seems salvageable and the school homeless program may be able to put $30-50 into repairs if that will really get it running. The kid's need clothes and baths but they'll get both tonight.

We stop at the school board office to try and find Nathaniel Shelton who heads up the homeless education program but he is out somewhere helping someone else so we leave him a note about the people from the car. You'll enjoy meeting with him on the I CARE link too.

It's almost dark, time to head back up into the mountains. Itís OK that you are praying to get back safely. Being on the passenger side of mountain roads with no edges can give a person lots opportunities to pray especially if a pulp wood truck is coming in the opposite direction.

We're late getting back. Mervin is worried but she tries not to fuss at us. She says there is good news and bad. The good news is that someone has donated big plastic packages of paper products. Margie and all the others will get toilet paper this week! But bad news is that a mom we'd been trying to help has left her children. Unless I can find a relative to take them immediately I'll have to call DFACS and ask them to pick them up. I hate to do that. Jose littlest boy thinks of his 14 year old brother Tyquan almost as a dad and he is so good with him. These kids need each other. Tyquan says he called his Grandma but said she was too tired to cope with all 3 of them. Mervin offers to call her as one grandmother to another. It works! Their grandma agrees to keep them for a while at least.

It's been a long day. I can see you're getting worn out. Why don't you rest here at Mervin's and visit with some of the people who come to pick up food while I drive over to Lumpkin County for one last food delivery. It's dark and I can see that your stomach has had more than enough roads without edges for one day. Thanks for coming with me today. I've really enjoyed your fellowship. Please sign our guest book while you're here. Come back soon. And don't forget to email!

Caring Hands Ministries, Inc.
PO Box 2681
Cleveland, GA 30528 USA
706 219-1980


UPDATES: Margie went home to heaven in April, 2004. I thought about editing out the parts of this page that are about Margie but she has is special to us I just canít. So they are still here as a tribute to her and as a way of representing all the wonderful senior citizens in this area.

Mervin will be 83 her next birthday. Her health is getting frail but her love for Jesus and for helping others is absolutely unstoppable.

This has been a very hard year and a half or so for Caring Hands and other ministries in this area. There are many more people needing help and some of those who have helped are no longer able to do it. Please pray for us.

It is a joy to hear from others who want to start similar ministries. We want to pray for you and many times we can share ideas that may help.

If youíd like to know more about Caring Hands or get our net newsletters please email us caringhandsministries@hotmail.com


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