LIFE MIN­ISTRIES: A BRIEF HIS­TORY

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - COMMUNITY - JOYCE COOK­SEY HAS VOL­UN­TEERED FOR LIFE MIN­ISTRIES FOR 25 YEARS. SHE IS TREA­SURER ON THE BOARD AND IS A FOR­MER DIREC­TOR OF THE MIN­ISTRY. By Joyce Cook­sey

Some­time in early 1992, a few peo­ple of Prairie Grove re­al­ized that the Min­is­te­rial Al­liance of the city was fac­ing a dif­fi­cult job of as­sist­ing peo­ple in need of aid for emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. Peo­ple were go­ing from church to church ask­ing for fi­nan­cial help and food. With­out any way of co­or­di­nat­ing their re­sources, each pas­tor was faced with mak­ing dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions of us­ing their benev­o­lent funds.

Four in­ter­ested peo­ple — Pat Hall of Prairie Grove United Methodist Church, Lila Dun­ham and Mar­jorie McElveen of First Bap­tist Church in Prairie Grove and Lora Bell of Prairie Grove Chris­tian Church — be­gan the task of form­ing a cor­po­ra­tion with by­laws and a board of of­fi­cers to form a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion. This took many meet­ings and hours of hard work with an at­tor­ney to make this hap­pen. The Farm­ers and Mer­chants Bank owned a build­ing on Buchanan Street and of­fered it to the or­ga­ni­za­tion for $1 per year. The cor­po­ra­tion would be re­quired to make any re­mod­el­ing and re­pairs and up­keep for the build­ing. The Min­is­te­rial Al­liance gave $500 to start op­er­a­tion of a food pantry and pro­vide funds for as­sis­tance with util­i­ties, gaso­line, pre­scrip­tion drugs and rent. (Later, it was de­cided to not pro­vide gas and rent as­sis­tance).

Nine area churches pledged to make monthly con­tri­bu­tions to LIFE Min­istries (Link­ing In­di­vid­u­als for Essen­tials).

The build­ing at 108 E. Buchanan St., was quickly up­graded with cen­tral heat and air and room di­viders to form of­fices, a food pantry and re­sale shop of do­nated used cloth­ing and other use­ful items. We opened for busi­ness on Jan. 3, 1993, and were open Tues­day and Thurs­day morn­ings, of­fer­ing as­sis­tance to peo­ple of south­west Wash­ing­ton County. This did not in­clude Fayet­teville and Spring­dale.

As the num­ber of peo­ple ap­ply­ing for as­sis­tance grew, so did the dona­tions of food and money. Sev­eral busi­nesses, groups, Lions Club and in­di­vid­u­als joined in do­nat­ing.

By 1995, our lit­tle build­ing was burst­ing at the seams. The re­sale shop moved into the old Post Of­fice build­ing next door. We be­gan search­ing for other pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions where we might rent or buy. The Parks fam­ily of Prairie Grove Tele­phone Co., of­fered to build a larger fa­cil­ity to fit our needs on Stills Road. On June 4, 2004, we moved into that new space on which we make monthly rent pay­ments.

In these past years,, we have pur­chased some por­ta­ble build­ings for stor­age and also more fur­nish­ings for our of­fices and the re­sale shop. The re­sale store is open to the pub­lic for any­one to come in and shop. The in­come from the shop usu­ally makes enough to pay rent, util­i­ties and other op­er­at­ing ex­penses so that all dona­tions can be used to aid those in need.

LIFE Min­istries has been hon­ored by the area churches and the city for our ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

This ser­vice is made pos­si­ble only with a won­der­ful group of ded­i­cated vol­un­teers who spend so many hours of hard work. We have no paid work­ers.

The of­fice and food pantry now uses com­put­ers to make our op­er­a­tions more ef­fi­cient and eas­ier to keep in touch with other sim­i­lar or­ga­ni­za­tions in the county.

LIFE Min­istries re­ceives no gov­ern­ment funds but we do use the North­west Arkansas Food Bank to pur­chase a lot of food items and the non-profit sta­tus, 501 (c)3 al­lows us to pur­chase food with­out pay­ing sales tax from places such as Sam’s Club and Aldi’s.

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