The North Jefferson Baptist Association Caring Center is one of those villages. The amount of servant leadership and love in one building is almost beyond description, but here is an honest attempt to describe what all I witnessed.
The Caring Center does many many things in service to those that truly need it the most. They are more than “just” a clothes closet or a food bank. They are a place you can go for genuine care and concern in the time in your life that you may need the most help and are not sure where to turn for answers. It is difficult to address someone’s spiritual need, if they arehungry and don’t know how they will feed their family.
In December the Center was able to serve 378 family members with food and clothing needs. They also partner with a local elementary school to send home weekend snack packs every Friday to 28 families that the school has identified as having food instability. During Christmas a new coat and undergarments were given to all the students they help through the program.
The Caring Center
The North Jefferson Baptist Association Caring Center is a 30 year old ministry and a nonprofit 501C3.
But in the last 2 years things have really begun to change for the vision of the organization with the addition of Dixie Kuykendall as the new Director. Mrs. Kuykendall was president of the Alabama Arthritis Foundation for 25 years and she and her husband both retired. Then, after 57 years of marriage, Keykendall lost her husband and her direction. After friends talked her into going to a Bible study she heard the following message that would change the course of not only her life, but the lives of all the volunteers and clients at the Caring Center. “Sometimes you get stuck in the struggle. To get out of the struggle, you need to call upon the Lord to give you service to others, and through that, you can heal”. And that is what she did, found new meaning to life helping others in need and finding new purpose in her own life. She is a self proclaimed “Professional Beggar” and through her determination and dedication she has formed community partnerships with Panera Bread, Walmart, local churches and community organization.
The heart of the program really lies with a team of dedicated volunteers. When asked why they work so hard, they said that their hard work has really become a ministry for them. That it really gives them purpose to help others get back on their feet.
Panera Bread does not keep old bread or pastries, so everyday those do not go to waste and find their way to families in need through the work of the Caring Center. Walmart has a special niche of items they donate to the Center. Packages that have been opened and are unsaleable help fill the shelves of the clothes closet . Items that are slightly damaged, but still usable are all used instead of being thrown away. The Caring Center purchases some of its food items through the Community Food Bank thanks to the generous contributions of the 37 churches that come together to form the North Jefferson Baptist Association. A volunteer group from a different church comes each month to unload the truck and separate the supplies. They also have donation drives among their members to collect items that are needed and not readily available through other means.
Some of the ways that you can help is: Toilet paper, peanut butter and jelly, snack food to be used in the backpacks for the kids, can meats such as chicken, tuna, vienna sausages and can soup. Clothes and shoes for all ages. Bibles and Christian Literature. They are also looking for groups that would like to help unload the truck or do service projects needed around the Center. Make sure to contact them or your church, to find out more ways that you can volunteer to serve others.
They are located at 775 Glen Chapel Road, the old Glen Chapel Baptist building. They have a room that they use for a prayer room for anyone needing spiritual help. Everyone is welcome to join a Bible study meeting 10am every Thursday morning.
The Center is open Tuesday - Thursday 8:30 - 12:30 and at other times when the need arises.
Some of their other programs include Homeless Ministries Outreach, Providing food for Christian outreach programs, Christmas stockings and baskets, Senior Adult OWLS(Older, Wiser, Livelier Seniors) Trips, provide food and clothing assistance to Alabama Baptist Children’s home, and school supplies for children.