Members of the Living Word Family Church normally travel for their annual summer mission trips, but this year they kept their missions close to home.
About 20 members of Living Word spent two weeks landscaping and beautifying local low-income neighborhoods.
Beginning the first week in June, the two campuses of Living Word came together for the summer project. Forming two missions teams, they split their time between New Hope Village in Wake Forest and Delta Apartments in Garner.
“We put in new bushes and plants and shrubs. Before, there was nothing but grass, but we got the grass out, dug holes for the plants and put down mulch,” said Jamie Tobler, outreach pastor at Living Word.
The Garner team completed the project on June 15.
Delta Apartments on Delta Road in Garner is a low-income housing community managed by the Housing Authority of Wake County. The 24 units in the complex are home to about 75 adults and children. Most of the families are single-parent households.
“They are communities that are in our area. We had already started working in the neighborhoods with tutoring programs and playing with the kids, so when we decided to do our summer mission trips and service trips, we decided to stay in Wake County,” Tobler said.
“Living Word found us,” said Burnetta Smith, executive director of the Housing Authority. “They had decided that they would do mission work right here at home, so they came to us. I thought that in itself was a great thing. We sat down and started talking, and they wanted a wish list from us for what they could do to beautify the community.”
For Delta Apartments, landscaping was high on that wish list.
“There was very little landscaping in front of the buildings,” Smith said. “They were very old and very unattractive.”
The Housing Authority funded the plants and mulch for the landscaping project, while Living Word provided the labor. For the Delta project, the estimated cost of landscaping material was $2,000, while the total cost for the entire missions program was $5,000.
The Housing Authority chose bushes and greenery that would last and require less maintenance over time than flowers or a garden.
Last summer, the nonprofit Wake County Housing Finance Corporation worked with residents of Delta Apartments to plant a vegetable garden. The garden is no longer in use, and the residents decided that was not a project they wanted to continue, Smith said.
But when the residents saw the nature of the beautification process this year, they were eager to help.
“They enjoyed it. Many members worked right along with Living Word, and of course they were there on Saturday with a big cookout, the party after the work. There was a nice crowd. Living Word’s members who volunteered were just wonderful, pleasant, hardworking, and did not let up, even working right through the rain,” Smith said. “I just saw them really pour themselves into the project.”