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50 || Sparks are Flying

Lynn Gill has a calling on her life. It is to serve others in tangible ways and see others blessed by God’s glory. After moving to Huntsville, Alabama from California for the management position at Madison Park apartments, Lynn knew that God was relocating her for a bigger reason than just work. She knew she was being called to Huntsville for a specific cause. She just didn’t quite know what it was yet.

The Spark that lit the Fire

Years earlier, Lynn’s son was engaged to a beautiful woman named Serena. Serena had cystic fibrosis and struggled with her health. This didn’t stop her son from loving this woman; they became engaged. After months of health struggles, Serena told her fiancé that she’d always wanted to go to the Dream Center to serve as a volunteer but she passed away before she could see this dream made a reality.

Team Serena

Lynn’s son wanted to honor his fiancé’s desire to become a volunteer with the Dream Center by creating Team Serena.  This team would join the mission of the Dream Center in reaching out to a variety of people in need through its many programs such as hunger relief, residential rehabilitation, foster care, and even human trafficking to name only a few. To learn more about the Dream Center, visit their website at www.dreamcenter.org.

Lynn decided to join Dream Team Serena and that is where she got her first taste of serving her community and helping others in need. This sparked a desire for her to continue to reach out to her own community for the Gospel.

Jumping into Action

During the holidays of 2012, Lynn decided to launch her apartment complex into a mission of giving back to their community. She chose the Manna House of Huntsville, a non-profit organization that provides food assistance and more to those in need.  The association for the apartments Lynn manages decided to hold a contest to see which apartment complex could raise the most money for Manna House. Through Lynn’s efforts and passion, the residents of her complex were energized and began to give increasingly to the fundraising efforts. Lynn’s Madison Park Apartments won the contest.

When Lynn talked with Fran Fluher, founder of Manna House, one of Fran’s remarks was that Manna House could serve the community better if people would give generously year round (not just during the holiday season). The lack of generous donations throughout the year causes Manna House to run low on items. In fact, Fran said many times they have empty shelves and, despite their desire to give, they have had to turn people away because they did not have what the person needed.

A light bulb went off in Lynn’s head. What if she could get her apartment complex to play an integral role in helping the needs of Manna House throughout the year? She began to offer opportunities for her residents to donate to the Manna House at special events the complex sponsored. Lynn reports that through these events and the impact they have made on the community, the residents have grown to love the act of giving as much as she does.

Not only do they now support the Manna House, but they have also started a “Spring Cleaning” team.  Members of this team walk alongside the roads and streets of their community picking up litter that lines the roadways and ditches. They want to care not only for the people of the community but also for the world around them that God has blessed them with. Lynn wants to get other apartment complexes in their community involved in their year-round outreach opportunities. She said it isn’t the bottom dollar that matters since they are rival apartment complexes in the business world, but what matters most is that they give back to the community. The world is a better place because of people like Lynn Gil that chooses to simply look around them, reach out their hand and their hearts, and share the love of Christ to those who need it most.

More about Manna House

The Manna House is open on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings from 4pm-7pm, closing only for major holidays or severe weather. Anyone in need is welcome at the Manna House. Volunteers are greatly appreciated and you don’t even have to sign up. Just show up anytime between 2pm and 7pm. They will gladly put you to work.

The Manna House has many other programs:

P.E.R.K.S. (Personal Emergency Resources for Kids in School) is one such program. This program provides snacks and ready-to-eat foods for elementary school children that lack adequate food supplies on the weekend. To sponsor a child in this program is only $14 a month. You can also give of your time by getting together with the P.E.R.K.S. team to pack bags for these children on Wednesdays from 2:30pm-6:30pm.

One Harvest Food Ministries provides an opportunity to buy great quality groceries at a wonderful price and support a ministry at the same time. Boxes are distributed monthly and can be ordered on their website at oneharvest.com.

Mom-to-Mom is a local ministry that provides diapers, wipes, clothing, equipment, and lots of love to expectant mothers, new moms, and preschool moms. Phone support is also available 24/7.

God’s Garden is a seasonal ministry that operates Monday through Saturday from 5am-until the work is done. Volunteers show up to help plant, weed, and harvest fresh vegetables from the garden for families in need. You can call 256-653-7883 for further details and directions.

Back to School is a program that assists parents in providing school supplies and backpacks for their children as they enter the new school year.

Thanksgiving Blessing provides families with food for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Christmas Blessing provides children with a toy, a book, and a stuffed animal as Christmas gifts of love.

Volunteers for any of these programs are always needed and appreciated. Children ages four and up are welcome to serve. Stay only as long as your feet, back, or children can endure. You may drop in when you are available and leave when you need to. There is never a reason to sign up. Just show up and you’ll be put to work!

You can contact the Manna House at (256) 653-7883 or drop by at 2110 South Memorial Parkway, Huntsville, AL 35801.

Lynn’s final words

“Someone has to light the fire, and others have to keep throwing wood on the fire.” We all have a role to play. Do you want to be someone who lights the fire or someone who keeps throwing wood on the fire to carry God’s love to the community around you?

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