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Volunteer Beverly Walker, left, and Committee on Church Cooperation director Ashley Boyd, center, help client Janice Ruggiero with cold weather clothes. Walker was recently named the CCC's volunteer of the month. [JERONIMO NISA/DECATUR DAILY]

Beverly Walker has volunteered one day a week at the Committee on Church Cooperation for the past five years because she wants to help people in need.

“Some people just break your heart,” she said.

Walker especially feels compassion for the homeless community.

"I just cannot imagine not having a home to go to, to be safe and sound. So, I always feel really good about us being able to provide them at least clothing and coats when it’s cold, and blankets,” said Walker.

Walker was recently named the CCC's volunteer of the month because she "connects with the clients" and is dependable, CCC Executive Director Ashley Boyd said.

Walker helps run the clothing closet at the CCC's building on First Avenue Northeast in downtown Decatur. She works two shifts on Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., and 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

“She is so genuine and so compassionate and has such a heart for it," Boyd said. “You can really tell, when someone comes through the door, she takes that extra step to really help them as a person instead of to just help them get clothes.”

Walker is one of more than 100 volunteers at the CCC, Boyd said, and they are essential to its operation.

“We love our volunteers," she said. “We are blessed.”

The CCC, which has been around for 48 years, also has a food pantry, ministries for baby care and for medical needs.

Walker said she has many reasons for volunteering. “I believe in what they (CCC) do, helping our community, the homeless, others that need our help. It makes me feel like I’m doing something good for people.”

She has been willing to help in any role at the CCC and also assists with the fundraising rummage sales.

“Sometimes I do just whatever’s needed — hang clothes, or help people find things within the clothing closet, try to answer their questions,” said Walker.

Walker said, on a typical Wednesday, they open the doors at 8:30 a.m. and she begins checking people in. People are only allowed to receive clothes from the clothing closet once every three months so that the CCC has enough items for everyone in need.

"We want to help as many people as we possibly can," Walker said.

Connecting with clients

Walker developed a rapport with one client who seemed to need someone to talk to.

“We just carried on long conversations every time she came in, Walker said.

Walker is concerned, though, because she has not seen her in about six months. “I think about her. I hope she is fine,” said Walker. “I’m praying that she’s fine.”

Many connections are made with the regular clients, according to Walker, and she is able to call them by their first name. Walker said she learns things about their families and what is going on in their lives.

Boyd said she is grateful for Walker and her volunteer service. “She’s human sunshine. ... She’s warm, she’s kind, she’s bright, she’s bubbly. We all adore her.”

Boyd said if someone wants to volunteer all they have to do is show up. 

Walker said she's found being a volunteer is fulfilling.

“I think it’s a wonderful organization, run very efficiently, and all the people here, not only care about what they do, but it’s very heartfelt.”

Boyd has been with the CCC for two years. There are five additional paid staff members.

The CCC has an annual budget of around $200,000, according to Boyd. “If you look at our distribution, we provide close to $1.5 million in value to the community every year.”

Boyd said their programs are aimed at meeting the needs of their community. The CCC also has three medical ministries for medication, medical supplies, and transportation to doctor’s appointments, said Boyd.

They also have two ministries directed at child and infant care, said Boyd, that provide diapers, formula, baby wipes, and some small baby items.

The CCC also helps the homeless. “We offer personal hygiene and travel bags for the homeless,” said Boyd. They are also given food from the food pantry. “We give them shower supplies so if they’re able to find somewhere to get a bath, have deodorant, etc.”

Serving Christ

The CCC was formed in 1973 when three churches got together, said Boyd, and realized they all had ministries that duplicated each other in mission and service area. She said they saw that it made more sense to collaborate and share their resources. This way they could reach a larger number of people and have a greater impact, said Boyd.

In one of the church’s basements, they put together their first clothing closet, said Boyd. “Over the decade after that, other churches got involved and thought it was a great idea.”

The CCC became a nonprofit in 1983 and hired its first director and staff, said Boyd. “From there we’ve grown.”

Boyd said their mission statement has stayed the same since the beginning. “To increase collaborative efforts of the Morgan County churches, provide emergency, short-term services to persons in need, all in the name of Jesus Christ.”

The food pantry is the largest and most well-known ministry, according to Boyd. “In 2018 we served 2,000 people. Last year we exceeded 8,000. This year we will most likely hit 9,000, so the need is increasing and growing every single year.”

Every year for Christmas, the CCC runs a toy room, said Boyd. After giving the necessary information, and it being confirmed that they are not signed up for another Christmas toy charity, parents get a personal shopper who walks around with them and helps them shop, said Boyd.

There is a rummage sale at the CCC every other month. “That’s our big fundraiser. That’s how we fund our ministries,” said Boyd. 

People can donate almost anything, not just food or clothes. Items can be brought to the side door Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Boyd. However, they do ask that people not leave items before or after these hours. Financial contributions also are accepted.

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—erica.smith@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2460.

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