Thursday, September 14, 2017

We are living in Shacks

Organization: Alabama Rural Ministry

Local church pastors and business leaders are uniting together with Alabama Rural Ministry (ARM) for their 10th Annual Sweet Homes for Alabama campaign. Lisa Pierce, Executive Director of ARM, will live in a makeshift shack for up to eight days. Other business leaders will commit to 3 hours or an overnight stay in another shack next to Lisa's. The goal is to raise awareness about poverty housing in our local area and throughout Alabama, provide efforts for people to volunteer to help repair homes, and raise $100,000 to help with the cost of materials for repairing these homes. The need is great— there are over 100 families on our needs list requesting help in our local area. With a housing shortage of 90,000 housing units in Alabama and a declining housing stock with our elderly, the need is always great and before us. “I have been on active duty with the Alabama National Guard since September 5th for the hurricanes. Seeing all of the destruction to homes brings this constant struggle to light.” LTC Lisa Pierce, Director of ARM.

The shacks will be in front of the Auburn University Wesley Foundation (131 S. Gay St. across from Burger King) beginning Wednesday, October 4th. Lisa and the shack dwellers will have information about poverty in Alabama, specifically Lee and Macon Counties. Auburn University students will also have a display on campus to encourage students to volunteer and give. Children are welcome too! With a $5 donation, children can paint on part of the shack and connect them with home repair needs and service. And they get to take their new paintbrush home! Information at the shacks will give tangible ways to volunteer and help families in our community through home repair.

Who else is staying in the shack? Rev. Rusty Hutson from Cornerstone Church, Rev. Cory Smith, Auburn UMC staff, Rev. Larry Bryars from Frazer UMC and more. We hope our community will come see them, give or pledge towards our $100,000 goal!

So, why shacks and what happens there? Lisa, ARM’s Executive Director, lives in a small shack that is just large enough to fit a twin mattress; this becomes her home for several days. She sleeps there and stays in the shack whether rain, shine, hot, or cold. People bring her meals and share in them with her. Another shack is set up for people to stay with her for three-hour blocks of time to help spread the word. This shack has room for two small mattresses, allowing for others to stay overnight. These little shacks allow others to experience (on a much lesser scale) some of the struggles low-income families face, especially when rain comes and they leak or cold air gets in through the drafty doors and windows.

ARM is a 501(c)3, faith-based organization that serves families through home repair and children’s ministry. Each year we repair 20-30 homes for families in our community. Most of the work includes roof repair, floor repair, and building handicap-accessible features. The families we serve with tend to be elderly, disabled, or single parents. Volunteers complete 95% of all the repairs, and we host approximately 1,000 volunteers per year.

For more information about Sweet Homes for Alabama and the shacks see our website www.arm-al.org, email lisa@arm-al.org, or call (334) 501-4276. *Lisa will be on active duty in Alabama until September 30th.