Wednesday, September 14, 2016

We are hiring!

We are hiring! Check out our website for more information about the Communication, Administrative Assistant, and Fall Intern positions available. Please send your resume to Jamie Barnhart,

A Note from Tracy Hipps: Changing Eyesight

I have just celebrated 58 years of life, and reading glasses are now a normal part of life. I need them to read the words on a page. I need the people of my past to help me see things better for the future. Last weekend I attended my 40th Hillcrest High School reunion in Sumter, S.C. It was truly an amazing experience and healing for my soul. I walked into my old high school and felt like I was walking back in time. There have been changes through the years, but the people in the room had only aged… and they were beautiful to my eyes. You see, my sight has changed after 40 years. Most of the people in attendance were black, but more than anything, they were my classmates of time and change. I was moved deeply by my friends of the past. I could see that there really is hope for the future and was so aware of how much I had changed since the fall of 1971— the first year of forced integration in South Carolina when I was bused 12 miles to school.

Those were hard years, beginning at 11 years old; going through adolescence, violent times, loss of family and a father serving a year in Vietnam. But I learned so much last week from my classmates about all they had gone through during those times. It was not easy for anyone. Forced integration brought communities of people together that were so different. We talked about rural blacks and white, military blacks and whites, and the Turkish people in the community at that time. I was told that the riots and fights were black-on-black as much as they were white and black. I was educated as to the struggles that went on, and still go on, in this school system and surrounding communities. It was not until 2010 that the rural and city school system merged. The current School Superintendent, a teacher in 1974 when I was there as a high school student, spoke at the reunion of the history and journey of the system through these years. There have been a lot of positive changes since 1971, though there are many more needed.

The glasses I see the world with are clearer now. My past is catching up with my future, so to know God and to make Him known are the eyes through which I see HOPE. I have so much hope just knowing God has called me to make His impact on a city known as the birth place of the Civil Rights Movement. Every year here in Birmingham, we remember and commemorate the the tragic loss of the four innocent little girls in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15th. God placed me in Birmingham to love this city, to help heal and influence people with the values of the Kingdom. Now I have lived here for over 30 years, so Birmingham is home for me now. I know I have been called here, and have SO MUCH HOPE because CSM is positioned to be a bridge of culture, understanding, relationship and equity. We can see our community with the eyes of Christ who created culture, gives understanding, desires relationship and gives everyone the opportunity to see His people with changed eyes.

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

Take some time this week of September 15th to seek the Lord, find healing for your soul and pray for change.

Restoring The Broken Places

The beginning of a great restoration for both the home and for Mr. Dodson
So often, the families and individuals we serve are very connected to their homes, neighborhoods and communities. But when properties become badly damaged or in need of extensive repair, extenuating circumstances result in unlivable situations, insurance disparities and possibly the loss of a family home. That is the kind of situation for which we can offer hope and restoration in a unique way. For example, we have been receiving requests to help with flooded homes in LA, because many of the damaged or destroyed homes were not in flood plains, and therefore carried no flood insurance.
Theodore Dodson Jr. a veteran of Vietnam and a resident of Birmingham, lived in a house that had fallen into disrepair to the point that the city wanted to condemn it. This would have been devastating for Mr. Dodson seeing has he had no other place in which to live. His house was originally owned by his parents. So for Mr. Dodson, this house did not just provide shelter, it was his home, and it reminded him of his family. Though his house was slated for destruction, his application somehow came across our desk and by the end of July, his life and his house started a journey of transformation.

Volunteers pray with Mr. Dodson as they begin work on his home.
When we heard about Mr. Theodore Dodson, Jr., an elderly veteran of the Vietnam War and a resident of Birmingham, we wanted to see if we could help with his situation. His house fell into such a state of disrepair that the city wanted to condemn it. This would have been devastating for Mr. Dodson, because he would have been forced to leave his house without recourse. Beyond the housing need he faces, he also has a deep connection to the house because the house was first owned by his parents. For Mr. Dodson, this house did not just provide shelter, it was his home, and it reminded him of his family. However, his application for assistance with an unsuccessfully repaired leaky roof came across our desk, and we went to access the situation. Our eternal optimist and challenge-hunter construction supervisor, Aaron Parsons, felt that Mr. Dodson’s house was merely a “…diamond in the rough. All it needs is a little polishing.”

Needless to say, “a little polishing” has involved months of reconstruction and rehabilitation of an aging and dilapidated structure. On that Saturday, July 23rd, we were able to start full remodel construction on his “fixer-upper”. We had about 40 volunteers working that day to start tackling a long list, including putting up vinyl siding around the house and painting the exterior trim. Since then, we have had many volunteers help us fully gut three rooms, install new kitchen cabinets, and by the final reveal, paint and furnish the entire interior of the house.

We are planning a Dedication Service for Mr. Dodson’s newly remodeled home this Thursday, September 15th. If you are interested in coming to pray with us and celebrate God’s provisions, watch for details on our Facebook page! And stay tuned as we continue to tell more of this miracle story.

Stuff the Bus Diaper Drive: September 11th-20th

Come help “Stuff the Bus”! This week, our ministry partner, Bundles has a goal to raise awareness for diaper need within our local community and to collect 125,000 diapers! Last year, they received proclamations from Governor Bentley and Mayor Bell declaring September 28th-October 4th as Alabama and Birmingham Diaper Need Awareness Week. During their 2015 10-day drive, they were able to collect more than 117,000 diapers.

“A lot of people don't realize that government assistance programs, WIC, food stamps, they do not cover diapers. So if a family has the option of buying food for their baby or diapers, they're going to do the food. And we feel just like this is something we can for sure, as a community, come together, tackle and help these babies and families,” said Lindsay Gray, board member of BOH Diaper Bank.

The big yellow school bus that will hold the diapers is sitting just off Highway 280 near the Target. It's hard to miss: it's the one with the guy on top in the tent. Skip Bondur will not come down from on top of the bus until the drive ends on Sunday, Sept. 20. He and organizers hope people see him and remember to stop and get those diapers for those who desperately need it.

“The goal is really kids. And sometimes they don't have choices--they just have needs,” Bondur said. “And so we just want to be able to meet the needs of the kids in our community that need help.”

BOH Diaper Bank is collecting diapers from newborn size up to size 6. You can drop them off at the bus or you can bring them by the CSM Ministry Center, where Bundles Of Hope is housed. We all love babies, and helping BOHDP share HOPE one bundle of diapers at a time!

Birmingham's Finest

Police recruits sorting supplies going to LA flood relief.
We love the variety of people and groups who come to serve alongside us and further the mission of CSM. This month, we had the opportunity to work with the Birmingham Police Academy in efforts to serve the flood victims in Louisiana. The academy contacted us to be their end-of-the-program project and we gladly accepted their participation.  Together we were able to consolidate around 60 pallets of food, cleaning supplies, water, and other donated items down to 24 pallets to fit into the 18-wheeler that was sponsored to take the items to Louisiana.

We worked for several hours to pack, stack and load around 35,000 pounds of donations to be sent for the relief efforts.  As you might imagine, these academy graduates worked very hard and quickly to achieve our goal and had the opportunity to learn more about the ministry of Christian Service Mission along the way.  Thank you to those that helped that day and thank you to those that serve and protect in the city of Birmingham!

Being a volunteer driven organization, we don't often know if we are going to have what we need to accomplish our goals. However, everyday we see God provide just the right number of people needed  to get the job done. We are so thankful to our volunteers for being a part of this great mission!

Thankful for these sweet blankets made by a local church women's group!

Police recruits and CSM staff

Tracy Hipps speaks words of encouragement to the recruits

A "Sweet" Sweet Potato Drop

September is National Hunger Action Month, where we can all focus attention on lifting our neighbors from hunger and nutritional deficiencies. 48 million people in the US are food insecure, and the city of Birmingham is largely defined as a food desert.

Food security is a core part of our ministry, and we love to witness God’s provision for His people.
This past weekend was the annual CROP DROP where excess sweet potato crops were gleaned and “dropped” for bagging and distribution to local food banks. CSM received 4 basketfuls to share with our food ministry partners.