The Christian Center is truly a center of hope for our community. Like us, you may know several of the services The Christian Center provides but after spending some time there, we can guarantee there are more services you are unaware of that stand as current offerings or are in the works. We, at Element212, have been enlightened, not just with information but the experience The Christian Center gave us.
At Element212 we spend each quarter doing something outside of our office doors to strengthen our personal relationships outside of work while also giving our brains the chance to enjoy more creative outlets and activities. For our October outing, our team chose to stay in line with our big-hearted team members and take our outing funds and time to give back to one of those near and dear to our hearts, The Christian Center.
The city of Anderson is highly community-focused and, in turn, The Christian Center is as well. Element212 is just a short walk from the front door of The Christian Center and our team took that walk, happily, Friday morning. During our walk through the heart of downtown Anderson, we were able to briefly experience the city streets in a way the individuals we were preparing to serve to do on a daily basis.
Spending our morning learning the ways The Christian Center serves was a highlight of our time together as a team. The Christian Center isn’t just focused on providing shelter to homeless men in the city of Anderson. It is focused on bettering the lives, as a whole, of the men and women who enter their doors on a daily basis. Services such as hands-on job training, life training, and faith training are just a few of the skills that skim the surface of what they provide to men in need. Other benefits include church services open to the community as well as the partnerships and coordination with organizations such as JobSource, the Health Department, the local police and sheriff stations, and more. The Christian Center, in a lot of ways, is a modern-day dot-connector to improving the lives of those it serves.
Daily hunger, and our ability to address it is one of the things most of us individually take for granted. Are you hungry? You find food. You search your fridge, you drive to a restaurant, or you check your cabinets. Food, for most of us, is easily accessible. This isn’t the case for everyone among us, and thanks to The Christian Center, food for those in need is easily accessible. Thanks to the Christian Center, the only place in Madison County providing a no-cost hot meal three times every day, those who need a meal, for any reason, have access to it.
The hands that prepare the meals often are the hands of those needing the food. The desire to volunteer for The Christian Center is high among churches, community groups, and businesses across Madison County. Though there will never be too many hands to help. Element212 was blessed to be able to provide our hands to serve together. We spent our afternoon preparing a full spaghetti meal to serve both the men living on the campus as well as to the public. Again, we often think it’s as simple as throwing some pasta into a large pot and cooking away. However, preparing a full meal for around 150 people for lunch on a daily basis is no easy task. It takes a team, and then some, to prepare for the number of mouths that are fed by The Christian Center.
Smiles were radiating across the faces of our Element212 team as well as the staff and men at The Christian Center as we cooked and socialized together. Everyone had a job and that is an important thing to remember! The Christian Center thrives on giving their living members a purpose and a job to fill that not only fulfills their lives but those lives that are served daily. If we had questions, the men and staff were ready to help! Our eyes were opened to the magnitude of servanthood given freely by those around us.
As the doors opened, men and women, young and old were lining the sidewalk waiting for a home-cooked meal. As each person passed through our line of food, we began to notice the trend of sheer gratitude for the meal we provided. To many, this wasn’t just a meal but it was a chance to start again, to find refuge, to find hope, to find warmth on the bitterly cold days of fall in Indiana, to find shelter, and to find friends. What we often view as just a quick meal, they viewed as a chance to fill a void or to continue pushing them to bigger and better things.
Our service was not just a service to prepare and provide a meal. Our day was filled with serving and sharing our lives, our time, our hopes, our encouragement and our love for everyone who entered those doors on Main Street. A few of our team members were able to step away from food prep to sit with men and women and commune together over a meal. In doing so, the energy began to shift in the room. Some of those sitting with their heads down, hands crossed, with very little eye contact begun to exude with life, with smiles, with warmth. One of the most beautiful things about people, no matter where we sit in life, is that we all have at least one thing in common, which is often all that is needed to start a good conversation and connection. Our team was able to grab ahold of those commonalities with these men and women and remind them that they are no different than those around them.
Life doesn’t always give us the hand we feel we should be dealt, even if we work for it. The realities are that every one of us struggles with something whether it is health problems like the man who just had open heart surgery and a surgery on his foot just weeks apart. Or we struggle with finding our place in our family like the woman who has brothers and sisters who don’t value who she is as a woman. Or maybe you are the man who just lost his job and in turn made him lose his children because he lost his housing, that all in part caused him to lose hope.
Service isn’t just for others, it is for all of us. Service opens our hearts and minds to what is surrounding us. It provides so much more than a temporary meal. It provides hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and answers to those searching. Most of all, service can be as simple as a smile. Like Barb, who said to me, “You are the first person who has smiled at me in weeks”. The Christian Center opens up their own doors to serve but also provides the chances for community businesses like ours at Element212 to serve and to be served.
Element212 will forever be blessed by our work with The Christian Center just like the lives who get to experience the center of hope they give daily. If there is one thing we wish for all to take from our time serving, it is the reminder that service can be as simple and as vast as you wish it to be, but regardless of the magnitude, you are changing a life for the better, especially your own!