Story and photos submitted by Phyllis Jones, Speakin’ Out News Sr. Staff Writer

(LEFT-RIGHT) Vincent, Antoinette, Ondria

The First Seventh-day Adventist Church sponsored its first 5K Run for Homelessness and Hunger Sunday, September 9, 2018. The event organizers were volunteers of the Community Service Center Committee that is chaired by Donna McCrary. Currently, the center provides food, clothing and mental health counselling.

The 5K event drew approximately 100 participants, whose ages ranged from 9 to 90 years of age. According to McCrary, there were several individuals who didn’t run, but gave donations to support the cause. There were 11 sponsors whose support really helped make this event possible. The funds raised will help the Community Service Center provide additional services to those in need. McCrary expressed, “We would like to expand our services to help people pay their rent, mortgage, utility bill and so forth. There are so many people hurting. We want to help fill that gap for those who are in need.”

First Church’s Senior Pastor, Debleaire Snell, was excited that the event turned out so well. “The cause is what drives everything. You have people who don’t necessarily run or walk, but believe in the cause of just trying to serve the homeless and those who suffer from hunger.” Pastor Snell also mentioned that when the church moved to 1303 Evangel Drive, they wanted to be in a community where they could serve more closely. For an example, the church is only a stone’s throw away from the Downtown Rescue Mission, whose residents have often been recipients of First Church’s compassion for mankind.

Associate Pastor, Alexander Lampkin, has never been homeless per se, but while he was transitioning from college to his professional job, there were some challenges. “I lived with people for a quick moment. The dollars were very, very few. So I know what the hardship is like.” It is Pastor Lampkin’s prayer and hope that many homeless people will benefit from the funds raised.

The event’s First Place Adult Winner was Alex Clark, who lives in Owens Crossroad. He had been catching his breath and relaxing, for at least 10 minutes, before the next race participant crossed the finish line. So how did this happen? Clark explained, “I came in with a race plan. I know what my marathon race time needs to be and I can back out what my 5K time should be. So I picked a pace and stuck with it.” Kavi Spence was the first, First Church member, to cross the finish line. He is preparing for a half marathon. “I enjoyed participating in this event because it was for a worthy cause. You may not be a runner or a walker, but the cause is righteous. So I encourage everyone to support it.” The First Place Children’s Winner was 9 year old Charles Wells. This was his third 5K event. And last but certainly not least, Elinor Eakins (First Church member) was the First Place winner in the Senior Citizen Category (75 years old and older). Believe it or not, the active 88 year old actually out walked some participants who are half her age.