by Jim Wehner
I stopped at the end of my block to say hello to Mr. Williams. No surprise, he was cleaning up the corner near the bus stop. It often becomes overrun with trash or overgrowth from the adjacent lot. I asked if he needed help, to which he responded, “No, I just keep this clean for Ms. Janice,” referring to another neighbor on my block. What an amazing man of service! Mr. Williams makes the neighborhood better.
Tom settles in at Community Grounds regularly. He and a friend commandeer the big table in the middle of the shop and are quick to greet people, talking with anyone who wants to engage. He can be funny and, at times, opinionated. He does not hesitate to let us know when something is amiss at Community Grounds. Tom purchased his home from FCS two years ago and is very involved in the community. He knows everybody and is active in the South Atlanta Civic League. He leads the code enforcement committee and does as much to support FCS’ housing work as anyone I know. Tom makes the neighborhood better.
A staff member recently told me he met James, one of the neighbors near our offices. James owns three rental properties in the neighborhood and collects tires in his backyard throughout the year to keep the neighborhood clean. He organizes neighborhood-wide clean ups twice a year. James keeps an eye on the FCS property as well and will call when something isn’t right. He is a huge partner to his neighbors on Gammon Avenue and a committed role model to young men. James makes the neighborhood better.
I could keep going. Without much thought, I could literally name another dozen people, not on FCS staff, who simply care for their neighbors and community in unique and helpful ways. It is the Kingdom in action. No denominational arguments. No church sponsorship. No outside volunteers. Instead, South Atlanta hosts a diverse group of people walking out their faith by how they care for those around them. This reality is the secret sauce of the FCS community development model: Neighbors caring for neighbors.
Today and everyday, I am thankful for the way God provides for South Atlanta through His people.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100 NIV (emphasis mine)