Connellsville Area Community Ministries outreach grows
Connellsville Area Community Ministries was started in 1974 after a 1968 fire destroyed Central Methodist Church in Connellsville.
Instead of rebuilding, congregants decided to start a ministry because they could attend other Methodist churches in town. They used the fire insurance money to establish the ministries.
The mission statement from Connellsville Area Community Ministries is: “CACM is an extension of the church to all hurting people needing support in life's development and the struggle to obtain justice and a healthful life grounded in God's Love.”
Shelly Auer, assistant director, came to the ministries in June 2011 from a job in retail.
“I was feeling restless in my job, knowing God had a calling for me in my life,” she said. “I was searching and refused several job offers because I knew they were not what God was putting in my heart. I gave the ministries director a resume and cover letter and forgot about it. He called, and I interviewed and accepted the job without knowing hours, wages, benefits or anything.”
Auer said she felt at that moment she had answered the call.
“I had volunteered at the ministries as a teenager with my grandmother Mary Basinger and my great-aunt Jane Hepler. She was the assistant of Rev. Gerald Witt and began the Care and Share Boutique; it is co-named the Jane Hepler Memorial Boutique,” Auer said.
Connellsville Area Community Ministries moved to its new location, 110 W. Crawford Ave., in January 2012.
“We had outgrown our space and needed more room to expand. We are also saving money in the long run, being the owner of our own facilities, because we don't have to pay rent anymore,” Auer said.
The actual move from Connellsville Area Community Center to the new location was quite an undertaking.
“We knew we had a huge job ahead of us. We had countless people in the community step up to help us to get moved and organized. Our biggest help in the beginning was Brandon Sabatula who donated time and materials, saving us between $5,000 and $8,000 by drafting our blueprints that we needed to continue with our building projects. Without that, we would still be in a big, wide-open space. God sends exactly who we need, when we need them,” Auer said.
“The move to Crawford Avenue has been a real positive for Community Ministries,” said Barry Craig, a member of Connellsville Area Community Ministries Board of Directors. “There is more visibility of the ministry in the new location, and we are serving more of the area's needy. We have seen growth in many ways. The boutique is very busy. We encourage more volunteers to get involved.”
Auer said the ministries have come a long way in the first year at the new location.
“We have had mission groups coming in from New Jersey, Indiana and around Pennsylvania to assist us in building. We had hundreds of linear feet of walls to build and that includes framing, drywall, electric, painting and more. We have demolished the old pharmacy area of this former drug store and re-purposed that wood to level floors and build cross beams.
“We have been very resourceful and have relied on donations specifically for our building project and only items the community has provided,” Auer said. “We have a lot of drywall yet to hang and wiring to run and probably another year of construction until we can say we have this completed.”
The food pantry is increasing every year in numbers, with 152 more boxes served in 2012 than 2011, for a total of 3,580 boxes distributed, she said.
“We are provided food through Fayette County Community Action Agency for the main food box,” Auer said. “It is then subsidized through items donated by the community through individuals, churches and organizations. These food items, totaling over 11,000, were then able to be given in addition to the food box.”
Auer explained that a No. 1 box is for a family of one or two and contains 11 to 14 items per month; they can choose an additional two items.
“They can only get a food box once a month, so the items provided by the community are vital,” she said.
A No. 2 box is for a family of three or four, who choose four additional items; No. 3 box, family of five to 6, who select six additional items; No. 4 box, for a family of seven or more, who can pick eight additional items.
“Wal-Mart of Connellsville and Martin's of Connellsville provide us with bakery, deli and produce items to distribute to our clients, also,” Auer said.
“Food pantry and other donations increase during the holiday season,” Craig said, “but it is important to remember that donations are needed throughout the year.”
The Care & Share Boutique has nearly doubled its size since the move.
The boutique is open to everyone — not just crisis victims — from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays.
Sharon Wilson, boutique supervisor, has worked with her staff of volunteers to make the shop, which she calls a pleasant shopping experience. They go over every item that enters the building, clean, test, price and place in the shop.
Donations can be dropped off at the back of the building from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. There is a volunteer staff to unload. Almost any items are accepted, including clothing, shoes, coats, undergarments, bedding, housewares, home décor, new and used toys, furniture, and appliances small and large. Medical equipment also is accepted as part of the medical-lending program.
“We feel more a part of the community now that we are on Crawford Avenue,” Auer said. “We are working every day to improve our building and feel we have come a long way in one year, but we still have a long way to go. We are always happy to see new volunteers as there is still so much to do. Everyone here has a call to help the people in this community and without the volunteers, we could not exist.”
Connellsville Area Community Ministries relies heavily on the community to provide the money and materials needed to assist the people of Connellsville.
“We haven't let any of the programs we have lapse in any way. We have kept all of them up and running. Connellsville is a very giving community and has a very diverse income, but all are giving no matter what income,” Auer said.
Connellsville Area Community Ministries Executive Director is the Rev. Charles Prevot; director, the Rev. Doug Johnson; supervisor of Care & Share Boutique, Sharon Wilson; and food-room supervisor, Jack Love.
Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Connellsville Rite Aid robbed
- Mill Run woman sentenced in daughter’s death
- New HR director in place in Fayette; commissioner remains opposed to hiring
- Connellsville-area group shares photos, stories, legacy
- Former Connellsville councilman’s foresight led to happier trails
- Robbery charges against Elizabeth Township man dismissed
- Porterfield: Fish dinner benefits Normalville Fire auxiliary
- Everyone encouraged to participate in Connellsville Holy Week events
- Connellsville center to host Eggstravaganza
- Serial burglar targets homes in North Union, South Union
- Connellsville Area Community Ministries surpasses Sharing The Harvest Campaign goal