Mission volunteers make impact in Cedar Hill

Rebekah Stepanian rakes leaves and debris from the flower beds at the Cedar Hill Food Pantry during Mission Cedar Hill, a ministry of High Pointe Baptist Church. (PHOTO/Tyler Agnew)

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CEDAR HILL—Mission Cedar Hill participants take seriously the words of Jesus: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

cedarhill brush425Mission Cedar Hill volunteers from High Pointe Baptist Church clear brush at Camp Ellowi. (PHOTO/Tyler Agnew)

The mission project of High Pointe Baptist Church sent about 50 high school students and 21 adults around the city to work on 14 projects, ranging from trimming trees and clearing brush at a local camp to painting and remodeling the Cedar Hill Museum of History. At every turn, they made an impact on their community.

“We just want to show Christ’s love,” team leader Rachel Shoemaker said. She led a group of 12 in remodeling a portable building at Bray Elementary School for the Cedar Hill Action Team, an after-school mentoring program for youth.

Volunteers exemplified the Mission Cedar Hill motto, “Taking care to the community.” At Cedar Hill Food Pantry, Director Gene Sims watched with a full heart as three students helped with landscaping.

“It makes me smile,” she said. “It really helps, because the flowerbeds haven’t been worked in forever.”

Senior Mikel Terry and freshman Rebekah Stepanian pulled weeds and raked leaves as the Texas sun beat down on them.

cedarhill terry300Mikel Terry works in the Texas heat, raking leaves at Cedar Hill Food Pantry during Mission Cedar Hill. (PHOTO/Tyler Agnew)“You really have to push yourself out here. It’s not easy, especially with the heat,” Terry said.

He agreed with Stepanian, who said it’s all worth it, because they are “able to help the entire community all in God’s name.”

About 1,300 local residents visit the pantry each month seeking help, so volunteers stay busy caring for clients. Sims views help with small repair and maintenance projects as a huge blessing.

“When we see something come up that needs to be done, we call Mission Cedar Hill, and they take care of it for us. They are definitely doing God’s work,” she said. Mission Cedar Hill began more than a decade ago as part of Transformation Vision, an organization Mayor Rob Franke and other community leaders started to unite people of faith to improve the city.

“We are a racially diverse city, and we’re economically diverse,” Franke said. “So, we started looking for those things that bring us together more than divide us.” Franke believes faith in Christ served as a rallying point, and “it became a real cornerstone of our city.”

cedarhill fenning425Daniel Fennig uses a pole saw to clear fallen limbs from the roof of a structure at Camp Ellowi during Mission Cedar Hill, a ministry of High Pointe Baptist Church. (PHOTO/Tyler Agnew)Franke approached Toby Snowden, High Pointe’s senior pastor, about leading Transformation Vision’s Protecting Children and the Elderly Committee, and Mission Cedar Hill resulted. Many of Cedar Hill’s elderly live on fixed or low incomes Snowden noted. At times, this results in their houses not meeting city codes. Mission Cedar Hill started to address those needs.

“We will go and bring their property up to code,” he said. Projects include repairs, painting, clearing brush, mowing and even installing wheelchair ramps for the disabled. The first year, Mission Cedar Hill brought one house up to code; this year, they completed five. Student participants enabled Mission Cedar Hill to expand its number of projects. “We have more students that sign up for Missions Cedar Hill than we take to youth camp,” Snowden said.

“And they pay to do it,” High Pointe Youth Minister Daniel Foster added. “It’s been neat seeing them come alive and (their) desire to serve others.” Mission Cedar Hill represents more than a few days of outreach for students. “This has become a part of our DNA,” Snowden said.

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