It was cool enough for two shirts today but not a jacket. One of those middle of the road days that you can’t help pretending is just a fine one. It was cool and bright but overcast most of the day. It was a good day for working outside.
We didn’t. Mrs. Jinksto and I along with some folks from Tuckaseege Baptist Church spent the day in a deserted mill helping it transform. Inside, the unheated mill building is dark and cold. Even in the lighted areas you can see darkness in the distance making the building feel huge and yet close; unwelcoming. The concrete floor sweats in places making the whole place feel damp. Damp, industrial, dirty, dark, cold… but not unhappy.
There’s love here and it’s slowly burning away the darkness. Slowly, slowly warming the coldness of the building. Pieces of it change carefully, slowly. Light bulbs get changed. Bathrooms that haven’t been used in years get cleaned and repaired. Offices get refitted with updated furniture. Computers come on. The phones ring again after years of silence.
The phones ring a lot here. Most of the time they ring with people wanting to help. Throughout the massive building there’s a happiness that seeps through the place. It seems to be coming through the walls, oozing in through cracked, sometimes shattered, windows but it’s not. Most of it is coming from Sheryl Dorsey and a few close associates who are turning this abandoned mill into a shelter for hurting and troubled women.
They have a website. It’s here. I’ve met them. I’ve worked with them. Hard, sweaty, make parts of you hurt, kind of work. If you want to donate, feel free. I can promise you that they’re doing good with it. I’ve seen it. If you want to volunteer, see the website. They’d love to have you.
As you walk through the building with Ms. Sheryl she tells you her plans for the building. The dormitory will be there. The nursery for volunteers here. Devotional room over where shipping and receiving used to be. KDM has a poster near the front of the building with the eventual plan for the shelter on it but this woman knows it by heart. As she tells you the story of what the building will become you begin to see it the way that she does. With love and wonder. You can’t help it. As you see it with her you become excited with her. You want to make her vision happen.
People call and give her things to help. They call to volunteer. She talks with folks in the community and takes any donation that they can provide. Today a group of us were empting a closed down movie rental store because the owner had donated the contents. Turning the death of a business into a life in the community.
The things that the shelter can use are kept. Things that they can’t use are sold at the ministry’s “Penny Thrift” in Stanley NC or traded with other merchants for things that the shelter can use. All of the money from the thrift shop goes directly into the shelter.
People donate there too. A couple recently walked into the thrift shop and gave Ms Sheryl five hundred dollars cash for a $30 vase. They whispered “keep the change” and took their vase home. Ms Sheryl carefully counted the donation before logging it and tucking it away in the safe. “My till was a little over that day” she said smiling. She always seems to be smiling… even when she’s calling you a girly man and encouraging you to work harder…. to make it happen faster.
The whole family attracts like minded folks. I worked with her daughter’s boyfriend at disassembling the movie store today. He’s in his mid-20’s and works hard. We spent the day working steadily at our task and trying to keep up with each other. He always seems to be doing something even when we’re taking a break. Like Ms Sheryl he’s excited about the work he’s doing and he makes you excited about it too… mostly by just doing the work. He doesn’t say much but he knows how to work a screwdriver.
About 30 folks from our church joined us in working today. Some at the shelter. A few at the movie store. We had very different jobs. We were tearing down… my wife and the others were building up.
When we returned late in the afternoon piles of donated clothes had been sorted and hung neatly on display racks, ready for the thrift store down the street. Cluttered areas were cleaned up and stacked more neatly. Donated furniture and computers were moved and sorted. The place seemed a little more light, just a little, and a little more warm. This place is slowly becoming The King’s Daughters Ministry (what a cool name) and I got to watch… to help with part of that transformation.
It’s not done yet. Not a by a long shot. There’re still months and years to go to get there. We’ll be going back to help. Probably as a group but if not, at least in ones and twos. Maybe, (hopefully) in fours and fives. Those of us that were touched by the love being poured into this place “can’t not” go back.
I hurt tonight, my wife hurts tonight, but it’s that good kind of hurt. The kind that reminds you that you made a difference today. Not a big difference, just a little and just enough for one day. My parting shot on twitter tonight looks like this: