By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist
In 2015, Susan and Jack Barrett of Jemison founded Our Helping Hands of Bama Ministry – a ministry that was dear to Susan’s heart.
“In 2005, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and praise the Lord, I overcame that hurdle in my life,” Susan said. “While I was going through all of this, I was forced to stop working and was a single mother of two boys. It was a daily struggle, but the Lord blessed me with amazing people. No need to say that my worries about no Christmas for my boys, no food to feed them and no utilities have been swept away by the help and grace of the people the Lord has put in my life. “I had to go to UAB Hospital every week. I would see at least three homeless people on every trip going through things that most take for granted. I knew I had to make a difference.”
Several years later, in 2015, when her financial situation and health improved, Susan started Our Helping Hands of Bama, a 501c3 organization to reach Alabama’s homeless community. She and her family prepared packed lunches and distributed them across central Alabama to homeless communities living in parks and under bridges. However, at the end of 2016, the Barretts were forced to stop their ministerial work after a car accident.
After closing the doors of the organization, Susan still had a strong desire to help others, so on January 1, 2022, they relaunched the ministry.
“This time we’re focusing more on our community in Chilton County,” Susan said. “Our Helping Hands of Bama is dedicated to helping families in need. So far this year we have helped many families who have lost everything to house fires. Some families come to us because of domestic violence situations. We have a clothes closet and a pantry. So people can come in and pick out clothes and we give them a week’s worth of groceries.
The Barretts accept donations and are available to pick up yard sale items.
“Once your garage sale is complete, we can pick up any leftover items that haven’t sold,” Susan said. “We keep all the clothes to stock our wardrobe. We sell the items in our garage sale, and the money we receive is used to meet other family needs. »
Examples of purchases made are restocking the pantry and providing Thanksgiving meals and Christmas gifts to those in need. In July, the organization plans to organize a distribution of backpacks to children in need.
Needs are identified through an online application available on the organization’s social media page, “Our Helping Hands of Bama”. Once the application is submitted, Barrett’s phone is immediately alerted.
The greatest needs of the organization are items donated by the community, clothes of all sizes, socks and underwear, which are always the first things people need. The organization also needs volunteers to organize the closet and build clothes racks.
The Barretts hope that in the future, a local business owner will donate a storefront to store the items given out.
“Right now we’re running this ministry from our home, so it’s by appointment only and it doesn’t look as professional as I would like,” Susan said. “We transformed our dining room into a pantry with shelves. We are also far in the country. It would be nice to have a place more easily accessible and in the center of town. The gift of a display case would be tax deductible for the owner of the building.
For more information, contact Susan Barrett at [email protected] or Facebook “Our Helping Hands of Bama”.