Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10 – 11
Claudia’s House for the Grove Park Neighborhood is a beacon of hope and a result of the work and legacy of God’s faithful stewards.
When LaTonya Gates’ grandmother was alive, she was known for helping feed her local community. The Grove Park neighborhood today is still a food desert, and with the continued complications from COVID-19, the access to food and other important resources for residents has become even more difficult.
After temporarily turning one of the PAWKids buildings, The Gathering Place, into an emergency food distribution center, LaTonya knew there needed to be a more permanent option as PAWKids consistently began serving and distributing 2,000 meals a week. That is how Claudia’s House, named after LaTonya’s grandmother, came to be.
Claudia’s House is a food co-op for Grove Park where families can pay a small fee and gain access to food, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, and more! When PAWKids decided to pursue the commercial building that is now Claudia’s House, there was a lot to navigate, and collaboration with others was essential to make this dream a reality.
One of Desire Street’s new partners, Grove Park Renewal, had already been instrumental in helping PAWKids finance and renovate the two houses in which they currently run operations. Grove Park Renewal believes that housing serves as a stability hub for all families, and is especially foundational for low-income families. When housing stability is gained, a family then has stability in education, employment, relationships, home life, spiritual life, mental health, and more. With Grove Park Renewal’s expertise in renovation work, they were able to work with PAWKids to secure the rental lease and necessary permits. Additionally, they were able to alleviate some key costs that helped PAWKids flourish in this project at an operational level, including providing contractor services at little or no cost.
When asked about why he felt it was important for their ministries to collaborate in strategic ways, Justin Bleeker (Executive Director of Grove Park Renewal) said, “Many hands make light work. By collaborating, all of our organizations are able to deliver better quality services to our neighbors while also not overstretching our individual organizations.”
Another one of Desire Street’s current partners, oaksATL, played key roles as well. Executive Director Matt Maxwell is a licensed general contractor, so he was able to help pull permits, coordinate construction and schedule inspections. His expertise and contributions also helped greatly in keeping costs down and ensured that the project moved forward at an efficient pace.
Matt commented, “We all have gifts, talents, and resources that the Lord has given us. Working collectively, our gifts make the full body of Christ and together we’re able to accomplish beautiful things through the Lord.”
Envisioned from Isaiah 61:1-4, oaksATL foresees the residents of English Avenue and surrounding neighborhoods of Atlanta growing into oaks of righteousness who will rebuild, restore, and renew their neighborhoods devastated for generations. They believe the provision of quality, affordable, and accessible housing is one aspect that will give dignity and empower residents to become oaks of righteousness and leaders in their community.
The English Avenue and Grove Park communities are not only close in proximity, but in their engagement of work and relationships that paint a beautiful picture of God’s Kingdom. The labors of these three ministries, as well as efforts from countless other stakeholders, city leaders and community members, provided a much-needed blessing for the Grove Park Community.
What’s most astonishing is that they were able to deliver the building “by the book” in about 70 days start-to-finish. That’s unheard of in commercial renovation projects. When we are faithful stewards of the gifts God gives us, our individual efforts become a collective proclamation of God’s favor and blessing.