Coordinator: Leslie Gast
Meeting Ground consists of five different properties in or near Elkton, Maryland that help provide for the needs of homeless men, women, and children in a variety of ways. Red Clay Creek has been connected to Meeting Ground for many years both financially and with hands-on work days. Twice this year Mission and Outreach has organized two work days at Wayfarers' House. Wayfarers' House is a large, nine bedroom home that can sleep up to 16 women and children. This facility keeps its enclosed front porch stocked with clothes for anyone needing them. They also hand out canned or frozen food to others when available. They have a library and a resource center complete with two computers (donated by two fellow Red Clay members) to offer women the resources to help them get training or to look for jobs. It is a place where homeless women can find support and understanding. Red Clay’s Vacation Bible School collects paper products for Meeting Ground.
Contributed by Leslie Gast
On a cold Saturday morning last February a group of eleven volunteers from Red Clay met in the parking lot of Wayfarer's House. We didn't know each other so we quickly introduced ourselves and went in to meet Cynthia, the director, and find out where to begin our work for that day. Our group of volunteers ranged in age from a middle school student to retired folks. We had men and women as well as members of Red Clay that brought along a friend! We are an all inclusive group! Cynthia is good at sizing up a group and always has a list of what she is hoping to accomplish and how many hands it should take. She divided us up as those painting in the entryway and those sorting and labeling linens and clothing for use in the house and on the porch "closet". She kept supplies coming such as paint and brushes. When the group was getting close to the end of the linen sorting, she got a few of them organized raking leaves in the yard. We broke at noon for lunch and we sat down with several women who lived at this home. There were two young girls ages 5 and 6 that joined us in painting and eating. Two women told us their story as to how they ended up homeless and how they were setting and accomplishing their goals to get back on their feet. It was really one of those moments when you realize that our roles could be reversed and that this home and the women working there each day are quite aware of the difficulties they face, yet they are also aware of the blessings in their lives. Their lives are not easy but I didn't hear a complaint. They told us all is not always peaceful with that many women living in one home but they really do attempt to make it a home. I know that by the end of the day a number of volunteers said to let them know when we would be coming back. It had been a special day and they wanted to return. Several of us donated items such as cleaning supplies, paper products and clothing for women and children. One woman brought toys and her daughters’ clothes and was able to give them to the two girls who were very excited as they were the right sizes for them. A box of food was also quickly taken into the kitchen to be sorted and used.
The second work day was Saturday, May 17th. This was an outdoor work day. Before we left in February, Cynthia told me she had gotten a plan from one of the women at the shelter in which she had designed a Memory Garden for Marsha Mazza. Marsha was the wife of Carl, the Executive Director, and together they started Meeting Ground. Marsha was very active at Wayfarers' House and although she died a year ago December, she is greatly missed. We were told that when she needed to find a peaceful spot she would go out the back door and walk a short distance to an area overlooking a pond. This was her place to think quietly, pray, and find peace. The women wanted to make it a garden with a bench in her memory. A group of five Red Clay mission workers helped them that Saturday to clear a good sized spot for another work group to begin planting this summer. We also weeded around the entire home and spread mulch both around the home and under the playground in their back yard. We filled five flower boxes with colorful flowers. Shrubs were trimmed way back and several tomato plants were transplanted near the newly planted Herb garden. Several women worked very hard alongside us and stopped only long enough to bring us ice water. We ate lunch with two women living at the shelter and again another woman shared her story with us. I know it took a lot of courage for her to open her life to us strangers, but as she spoke her excitement was evident as she recounted her goals she had reached and that she felt she was making headway. She was the mother of the two girls we had met before and it was good to see them doing well in a very tough situation.
We've been working with Cynthia to keep us updated as to the purchasing, picking up and planting of the shrubs, grasses, and flowers that were part of the design for the Memory Garden. There are additional ideas when the money is available to continue the Memory Garden. We plan to spend another Saturday in the future doing whatever we can to shorten Cynthia’s to do list at Wayfarers' House. I was also wondering if there were any Red Clay gardeners who might like to lend a hand to this particular project. If so please call me (302) 239-2006 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to welcome you to our growing volunteers in mission group at Meeting House.