Neighbors Helping Neighbors Story - How it all began
In 2009 Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN) was formed by Pastor Linda Gwathmey. Due to a downward turn in the economy, Windcrest United Methodist Church (WUMC) was seeing a large number of benevolence requests on a daily basis and other churches in the area were experiencing the same. Our neighbors were hungry, needing help with rent, utility assistance, baby food and diapers. Homeless camped in nearby “camps” needed a ride to a doctor’s appointment or a sack lunch. Grandparents were caring for grandchildren. Household numbers had doubled due to loss of jobs or hours cut at current jobs.
Our pastoral staff and church office could not keep up with the benevolence requests on a daily basis. After much research, Pastor Linda knew we had to put a ministry in place to address these needs. A band of volunteers committed to this weekly ministry formed in August 2009. A small group of 30-40 Neighbors increased to over 90 per week as the economy continued its plummet.
On the second Thursday of each month the doors of Windcrest United Methodist Church are opened at 8:00 am for all that want to come for a meal, fellowship, worship service, Holy Communion and enjoying music together. We come together as a community to glorify God and respond to benevolence requests submitted on an individual basis. Neighbors that request help, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual have an opportunity to have a volunteer pray with them. A pastor is often available for those that ask to speak with a member of the clergy.
Toiletries are available, and bus tickets are provided for job searches and doctor’s appointments as well as visits to the VA Hospital and Haven for Hope.
We were grateful to see the addition of the San Antonio Mobile Food Pantry which provides the much needed food on a monthly basis (every 3rd Thursday of the month) through a grant from the Texas Diaper Bank.
Our Wesley nurse provides excellent health education, screenings, referrals as well as resources for eyewear, prescription medications, doctor and dentists visits to name a few. She is greatly involved within the community scouting out organizations and businesses to ask their help in assisting those in need. She has been successful in securing FREE flu vaccinations for those that need them. Her work has impacted the underserved in countless ways and she is not finished searching out resources.
NHN has an annual Christmas party to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Many volunteers work together to cook pancakes and sausage. Donations of toys, jewelry, clothing and household items become gifts to everyone attending. Christmas music fills the air and Santa has been known to show up and surprise us all!
NHN gives us the opportunity to meet our neighbors as they are and where they are. Many have said this Thursday ministry is their church. They may not feel comfortable attending “conventional” church; they are comfortable in the environment here each Thursday. We say, “Come as you are, just come join us.” Some experienced Holy Communion for the first time while visiting here. We have all grown together over time and have become Family!
We welcome volunteers and hope you will make the decision to join us as we share Jesus’ love with our neighbors.