The mantra of the new Plant City Community Ministries is “Helping Families Stand,” and the ministry intends to do just that by utilizing an educational approach in its work.
The new Plant City ministry will open Feb. 4.
“It’s not just a band-aid approach,” Benny Keck, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dover, said. “It helps people from going to church to church seeking services. We’re offering long-term support.”
Community Ministries is offering a variety of programs to help those in need, from families to the homeless and seniors to those suffering from addiction.
One of the most popular services is the food pantry, which will provide emergency food supplies for those who need it. But Community Ministries goes one step further, offering food classes through which participants will receive recipes and learn about budgeting and planning low-cost, nutritional meals.
“We’ve found a lot of needs are food-based,” Director Cheryl Hickman said.
As well as food education, the ministry will offer employment resources. Participants can work on their résumés, find out about job openings, network and learn new skills for interviews. A closet will be filled with business attire for participants going to interviews.
“People are getting employed,” Hickman said. “It works. Sometimes, people get discouraged. Sometimes, you have to put 100 applications out before hearing back. But don’t give up.”
A team of pastoral counselors also will be on-site to talk to anyone dealing with addiction, grief, divorce or who may counseling.
Volunteer advocates will be staffed at the ministry from Monday through Friday. Advocates not only will help run the classes but also help connect people with services they need.
“People really want … the educational aspect of it,” Hickman said. “They may not know what to do next. But when they come here, we help them with a short-term and long-term plan.”
Hickman has experience running a similar ministry. She started the Women’s Resource Center in Brandon 10 years ago. Since then, she has helped serve 25,000.
Hickman was inspired to start the center after she struggled as a single mother. She felt like there were no resources for her.
“God just laid it on me to minister to those in need,” she said.
She started a group with 100 women. Within two years, she obtained a facility and now has 17 volunteers staffing the center.
Hickman connected with Keck and Dan Morris, director of missions with Shiloh Baptist Association, after doing CareFest last year. Morris and Keck were interested in the concept of a true community resource center that also taught Christian values. Glenn Culler, pastor of Johnson Road Community Church, also was interested the ministry. He needed a resource center to help mentor his senior members about issues such as Medicaid and Social Security. Culler let the ministry use its back building for the center of operations.
Several churches in the area as well as churches from the Shiloh Baptist Association have pledged to help the ministry through donations or volunteer services.
“If every church in the area contributed a little, we’d have a lot more resources,” Morris said. “We can do a lot more together.”
Plant City Community Ministry
Address: 103 Johnson Road