Monday, October 18, 2010

A Word from Bubba

This blog has been a long time coming. Since moving MCM from Nashville to Clarksville, God has done some amazing things. Some were downright miracles that there just hasn’t been time to write about.

In April, we signed a 6-month agreement with Hilldale UMC to use one of their buildings for a makeshift catering kitchen and office space. While getting the facility ready, the flood of 2010 happened, and with the help of United Way we jumped into flood relief. Using Hilldale UMC’s gym, we set up an emergency food bank, collecting and distributing food to hundreds of people who were affected by the flood while still moving forward with our original Café plan (to feed hot meals to the poor and homeless; our first meal was on May 6). Through these efforts, we have built relationships with several agencies such as United way, Operation Blessing, Operation Serve, Workforce Essentials, TEMA, Second Harvest, and the Clarksville Mayor’s Office.

After the floodwater went down, we kept moving forward, setting up an official food bank, which has involved moving our warehouse three times and becoming a Second Harvest agency in order to get food at a reduced rate. Since the flood, we have distributed over 100 thousand pounds of food and thousands of cases of water, milk, cleaning supplies, and hygiene items. Our Café has grown to three meals: Tuesday night, Thursday night, and Saturday morning. On average, we serve well over a thousand hot meals each month. Those who have been involved can honestly say they have seen God do mighty works among us—and all Vicki and I can say is “Thank you, God” while giving Him all the credit.

While our small team of staff, volunteers, and Workforce members have done an amazing job of collecting and distributing food, there are a few things we haven’t done very well at all—and one is saying thank you. Things have happened and grown so fast that it’s been all I can do to hang on. And my wife, Vicki, still works a fulltime job in Nashville and does what she can. In May, Dena LaBean came on staff to do administrative work, but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. As a result, one of the very things we feel strongly about—sending thank-you cards to those who contribute—has, at times, fallen through the cracks. Some of you have donated money, food, computers, desks, kitchens supplies, and your time; you’ve held food drives or fundraisers, but you have not received a thank you. First of all, I want say I’m sorry for this. We literally cannot survive without your support, and there is no excuse except that we dropped the ball. So I want to say thank you to everyone all at once, including individuals, churches and business, for all you have done to help us serve the poor.

Another way we have not been very efficient is communication. Several of you, through our webpage, Facebook page, phone calls, email, or in person, have expressed interest in getting involved with MCM but have not been contacted back. We know this is a huge problem, and again we’re sorry. This has happened for the same reason, and (ironically) the only solution is to find a volunteer coordinator. So, if you’re interested, please contact us and keep trying till you get a response. This goes for everyone who reads this; please contact us again until we get this problem resolved. We need your help to carry out the mission God has for us.

Which brings us to the present. We have reorganized the leadership of MCM and are in the process of setting up a new administrative board (called the Pillars) and adjusting the existing ministerial board (the Crash Crew). This will allow the leadership to do what they do best in their areas of expertise. (List of members to be announced soon.)

We have a new Manna House. We just signed a 3-year lease on a 5000 sq. ft. building at 1319 East Franklin St., and we’ve started the process of remodeling the offices, building a kitchen, and setting up the warehouse. We hope to have the offices done by Nov. 1 and the kitchen completed by the first of the year. The warehouse will be an ongoing project. So we need you. We need your prayers for the leadership of MCM, for the daily operations, and that we stay on path that God has set before us and continue to hear His voice. I’m learning the hard way that I can’t be everywhere at once and I can’t do everything, so there are a lot of projects that I need help with—from building walls to doing electrical and plumbing work to painting and sorting food. The first project will last from Wednesday the 20th until Saturday the 23rd. If you want to volunteer, please call our office @ 931-933-0970, and please keep trying till you get a response. We also need your financial support. The startup costs of building and stocking a kitchen is high—not to mention that moving to our new location has more than doubled our monthly operating expenses.

This is a very exciting season For Manna Café. We are privileged to be serving this city and our God at the same time. Help us to battle against the hunger issues in our community—because hunger in this town is unacceptable!

Thank you! I’ll be in touch soon.

Bubba (Kenny)