Ministry God Story: House of the Harvest
House of the Harvest
Adam and Jennifer Walker
About a year ago, I made a personal investment to spend time volunteering at the Manna House in Huntsville. I would take my son Ty, and we would go work for an hour here and there three or four times a month. Over the course of time, my trips to the Manna House would become a very special part of my weekly routine. Soon after I began to take others with me including boys from church, my ball players, and several of my closest friends. There was something special about serving those individuals in need that would become such a blessing to me and my spiritual journey. In time, I would develop a passion for volunteering, serving others, and being a part of providing their needs.
Through the course of this time, I was also doing research on how to promote success in schools that are high level poverty and low socio-economic status. One of the things that continually came to my attention was that schools that thrive in these types of environments are schools that seek to be the center of the community. In these schools, the students look to the adults around them that they can rely on to meet their needs. At the same time, my wife had started running a food pantry at SMS. She was doing this work through student council. The food pantry was providing food to several of our kids on a weekly basis.
In the winter of 2015, we would end up with several weather days that would cause us to be delayed, closed, etc. Often times we would have students come to us and ask for food in fear of us having to cancel school and there being no food in their house. Several of them rely heavily on their two meals a day from school. We knew there was need for necessities in our school, but we had no idea how great it was. As a result we decided to improve the situation for as many families as we could. Our food ministry began as a product of all of this.
Through some of my connections with Bjarni Erlingson and Fran at the Manna House we were able to start getting some food to provide to our families in need, all of whom have multiple children. So we started packing and calling the families to offer them boxes of food each week. Soon some of the other schools in our cluster started calling and telling us about needs they have in their school. Through the help of Mrs. Sherrod (our behavior specialist) we contacted all the schools in our cluster and found the families with the deepest need in their schools. On Wednesday nights, we have a group of about 30 people that meet at SMS, pack the boxes of food, pick up milk and eggs, and deliver the food to the doorstep of the families in need that we have. We are currently serving 25 families comprised of 110 individuals, 90 of which are students at Sparkman High, Sparkman 9, and/or the 2 middle schools and 4 of the 5 elementary schools that feed them. Often times we find greater needs that we try to meet like clothing, beds, etc.
As our work has grown, we have seen just how much need exists. At times I have felt like our food delivery is completely insufficient for the need that is there. In February we began feeding students out of a cabinet. We were overwhelmed by the amount of need and were able to move our operation into an empty classroom. By the end of May, it was evident that we would be needing a building off campus in order to meet the needs of our community. As God’s Spirit moved over our work, Bjarni called me one day and asked if Jennifer and I if we could meet with Fran. Through that meeting, it became apparent that Fran was asking us to help fulfill part of her vision by beginning an arm of the Manna House in the Harvest area.
Jennifer and I left that meeting knowing we needed to find a place, but how would we afford it? Where would we find it? How is all of this going to come together? Little did we know at the time, God had already started lining up all the answers. On a completely different note, David Vess (our school board member), helped out in the process of getting the land for the Harvest Volunteer Fire Department for the purpose of a new fire hall. After telling him about our vision, he brought up the idea of us using the old fire hall. It was on the market for $220,000. In hopes that we could rent the building, we started to have some of those conversations. As it turned out, the president of the board at the fire department called and asked if I would come to speak to them about our ministry. I put together a presentation about the need for the children in our community and went to present it to the Harvest Volunteer Fire Department.
After the presentation, the board at the HVFD met with Mr. Vess and I. They offered for us to use their old building for six months and we could just pay the utility bill. If we decided that we would like to purchase the building, they would sell it to us in the $120,000 range! Jennifer and I went directly from there to the Manna House to see Fran. Fran offered to be involved in helping us raise the money to buy the building and to completely stock it with everything we need to be ready to begin the building my wife and Fran have affectionately named, “The House of the Harvest.”
Our plan is to open the House of the Harvest at the first of October. As with any venture, we will need a lot of support from the community to get started. The House of the Harvest is already a product of a huge dream, a lot of support from God’s people, and the hand of God moving throughout our community. We have been amazed at all that has transpired in such a short time and we know that it will continue to grow. If you are interested in helping, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for wanting to be a part of God’s story in Harvest, Alabama.
House of the Harvest: More Information
Open – Saturdays from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM
Volunteers – Saturdays beginning at 7:00 AM
Special Needs – Large Plastic Bins, Oven with Cook Top
How To Donate – Checks sent to:
House of the Harvest
P.O. Box 389
Harvest, AL 35749