STORIES from C.O.O.L. Day 2016 - Tallmadge, OH

C.O.O.L. Day Snapshots:

Louie – 84-year-old resident on Danner Rd.

Louie built his house in Tallmadge in 1969 when many of the other houses in the neighborhood were not there yet.  He was married for 36 years and had 2 children.  He always worked hard.  He worked 3 jobs so his wife could stay home with the children when they were young.  He has always done everything for himself.  He believes “If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”  He doesn’t want handouts. After rejecting C.O.O.L. staff multiple times, he finally conceded to allowing a project at his house.

On C.O.O.L. Day, a volunteer at Louie’s house told him that sometimes we have to RECEIVE in order to allow someone else to be blessed by giving.  Louie said he never thought about blessings having two sides.  He said he hopes the blessing he received will keep on going.  He concluded, “The Lord provides.”

Louie was seen walking around the neighborhood and visiting with other neighbors on C.O.O.L. Day.

Caroll - resident on Danner Rd.

I laughed as Carol told the story of the first time volunteers had come to her door to tell her about C.O.O.L. Day. She saw them approach the house and didn’t recognize them, so she hid inside and peeked out the window at them. To say that Carol was initially skeptical is appropriate. But by the time C.O.O.L. Day had come, Carol’s perspective had changed completely. She spoke of how sweet Annie was, of how amazing it was to see all of the volunteers working together in the neighborhood where she had lived for over 50 years, and of how awed she was to see Christians working together in this way.

Carol told us of her health issues, of knee pain that made even trips to the grocery store an ordeal. And she told us all of this as she took a break from helping volunteers rake gravel in her driveway. She promised us she was taking it easy and that she wouldn’t hurt herself, but she wanted to be out of her house and a part of what was going on that day.

Diane – C.O.O.L. volunteer 

Diane said their church had a great crew, including contractors and carpenters!  Her church frequently goes on far-away mission trips, but despite her interest in serving, she was never able to participate in those trips.  However, she was able to serve with C.O.O.L. because it was close to her home.  She was so excited to help!  She was inspired by her team members, and shared with us that a few of them are stroke survivors.  One of them was in a wheelchair and only has use of one hand, and yet he was vigorously working on staining the gazebo.

The homeowner at this particular house wanted to know, “what is the catch?”  A volunteer explained, “That’s the whole point of Christianity.  You just accept it – there is no catch.  It is a beautiful thing!” 

Diane was blessed by seeing all of the different types of people, including the disabled, working together on C.O.O.L. Day.

Kathy - C.O.O.L. volunteer

Speaking with Kathy was a lesson on God the Provider. The stories that she shared with us seemed to shout of His precise, generous way of supplying for our needs.

Kathy told us of a tree that needed to be removed from the property. It was an old tree in dangerous proximity to the house.  A big storm could have easily caused it to fall and destroy a large portion of the roof.  So a crew was coming to cut the tree down within the next few days. The tree was large, and would create quite a bit of wood that the next door neighbor was more than happy to take. He heats his home with a wood-burning stove. So, even though the neighbor himself hadn’t signed up for C.O.O.L., God was working to provide his needs, too.

Kathy also told us of their homeowner’s unique request to have a Granny Smith apple tree planted in the backyard in memory of a family pet.  Since it was a unique and specific request, she went to Petitti’s soon after to make sure that she could get the tree she needed.  When speaking with an employee at Petitti’s, she learned that in order for the tree to produce apples, there would need to be two trees planted for pollination purposes. The employee happily helped her find the last two remaining Granny Smith apple trees, and sold both to her for the price of one.

Gail – C.O.O.L. volunteer

The homeowners cried when they came home after visiting an elderly relative.  They didn’t know the C.O.O.L. team was going to do everything that they did.  They were thrilled at the way it turned out!  The homeowners are hard-working people, but have not had time to take care of their yard.

Gail and the team had so much fun working together!  Gail said they have been so blessed by GIVING.  They were so enthusiastic, they even divided their team to work on the house across the street because another church backed out. 

This team was blessed to learn that a C.O.O.L. volunteer had been working earlier in the week at the house next door.  That volunteer accidentally disrupted the gas meter, so the gas company visited the house.  As a result of this visit, they discovered that there were gas leaks in occurring inside the house.  What was originally an embarrassing situation turned out to remedy a potential danger at the home.  Gail expressed her amazement at the way the Lord worked to protect those residents.

Gail and her family were thrilled with their first C.O.O.L. experience and said they would absolutely love to be involved again.

Janelle - C.O.O.L. volunteer

Janelle, we joked, was our “big fish” interview.  Even before we met her, we had heard wonderful things about her.  And meeting her was no disappointment. She was one of those special people whose heart for Jesus shows on her face and through her words.

Janelle spoke enthusiastically about unity; about how God had been teaching her church about unity, and about how she was witnessing it on C.O.O.L. Day.  She was excited to see the collaboration of her own church members, the various churches involved in the project, the community members, and the government.  Amazed at the unity on display in front of her, Janelle could see God at work.

She grinned as she told me stories of how God had left no detail unattended in the organization of the day.  One of her home leaders quickly bonded with the homeowner he was helping over their mutual admiration of cars.  Another home leader whose wife has battled cancer discovered common ground with his very ill homeowner.  And a volunteer at one house was able to teach the children who lived there about plants while their mother, who professed to having a black thumb looked on, grateful that her kids could learn the things she couldn’t have taught them.  Later, she watched as the volunteer’s children and the homeowner’s children played in the yard together. 

Beverly - resident on Peck Rd.

Beverly’s story was like a lot of other homeowners: she was initially hesitant to agree to having C.O.O.L. help at her home, certain that others would need it more than she did. But she eventually agreed. While going through the process of determining what work would be done, she was afraid to ask too much. But she was pleasantly surprised and very grateful when she was offered and given far more that she would’ve ever thought to ask. She was also blessed with a home leader whose thorough and quality work wasn’t just isolated to one day: he’d been working for weeks to do the job right for her. She got emotional and struggled to speak when she expressed her gratitude for his hard work and the work of all of the volunteers she saw that day. She was certain that only God could lead others to give so generously of themselves.

Chuck and Ryan - C.O.O.L. volunteers

Chuck came to drive volunteers in and out of the neighborhood and to fetch any needed supplies from the local hardware store. Ryan came to help his wife, who was one of the journalists.  Both men started out doing what they’d came to do.  And by the end of the day, both men were covered in dirt and sweat from various other projects they had jumped in to help with.  They embodied the spirit of the best of the C.O.O.L. volunteers by going beyond what was asked of them to help where extra hands were needed.

C.O.O.L. volunteers - a collaborative effort!

Because it was a last minute addition to the C.O.O.L. Day Project, we didn’t even know if we’d have the time, manpower, or resources to do much on Peggy’s house.  And then God did His thing. By early afternoon, the house was surrounded by yellow t-shirts, paint had been purchased by a collaboration of several churches, and work was underway. The house was scraped and painted, flowers were planted, and mulch was spread. Exhausted volunteers, many of whom did not know each other, worked together to get as much done as they could in the limited time available. 

As I watched the house transform in front of me, I stood amazed. God’s people, working together in harmony, can accomplish great things—the renewal of a house, certainly. And what a beautiful picture of God’s plan to make all things new through the hands and feet of His children!

Bonnie, Jodi, Marie, & Brenda - C.O.O.L. Prayer Walk Leaders

In a brief conversation with several prayer team volunteers, they shared with tears in their eyes that God had answered every single prayer they’d prayed and that they were in awe of what they were witnessing.

C.O.O.L. Day Perspective from our Journalists:

Sarah S.

"Even before we said “Amen” finishing the prayer that started our day, there was a sense that God was about to do something big. Emotion was thick—the Spirit had already made His presence known amongst us. The God of all Creation was on the move.

And, as always, our God worked in ways both subtle and obvious, whispering and shouting of His goodness, His love, His plan of redemption in the world.

The donuts stand out as an image of what God did on Saturday, June 4, in Tallmadge. Jubilee Donuts wanted to donate donuts for the day, and so Cindy added a stop to her morning to pick up their donation. Dozens and dozens of donuts were given, filling both the back seat and the cargo area of Cindy’s Honda CRV. There were enough donuts for all of the volunteers and all of the residents, and there were still many left to give at the end of the day. Not only were we able to give to a ministry that supplies food for homeless and poor community members, but we were also able to share with various friends, church groups, and family members in the coming day or two. And this generous gift, this gift that was more than enough, this gift that was shared even outside of the immediate community in Tallmadge that day, was such a beautiful image of the work God did this year. He gave in abundance, and it touched everyone—those giving and those receiving, even those who just came in contact with the volunteers and residents who were present. This is our God, and this is why He commands us to love. For when we do, needs are met, joy is spread, and the gift keeps giving.

God’s goodness was on prominent display throughout the day, as we witnessed time and time again the precise provisions He had made. He provided the right workers for the right teams. He matched volunteers to homeowners who shared a common interest or had a common history.  A small church with few financial resources had signed on for a big project (residing a house and various other improvements), and God not only gave them the skilled workers they needed from the members of their congregation, but He also provided more than enough to pay for the supplies necessary for the project. In their excess, they were able to contribute towards the work needed on another home.

God’s love and redemptive plan was also clearly visible throughout the day. As volunteers loved on one another and on the residents of the neighborhood, all the while working to make what was once dingy and in disrepair new again, we saw in small scale what the Church is called to do in this world: to go into the broken places with love, working together to make all things new."

Sarah R.

"Over and over, the residents and volunteers expressed how blessed they were by the giving and receiving that was happening during C.O.O.L. Day.  Everyone consistently affirmed that the Lord provided for specific needs.  He provided people with relevant skills for particular houses.  He provided materials, money, and tremendous government support.  He provided trees, and he provided the discovery and correction of a gas leak.   He provided willing workers and open hearts.  He was planting seeds through sermons well in advance of the C.O.O.L. meetings.  He blessed so many people, residents and volunteers alike."

Copyright (c) 2016 C.O.O.L. (Community Outreach Of Love).  All rights reserved.

 

Credits:     

Interviews and Journalism by:

Sarah Reed

Sarah Senften