Appalachian Dream Center Operational!

By , May 25, 2001

An imposing old turn-of-the-century, four-story red brick building that housed the Island Creek Coal Company store and headquarters in Holden, West Virginia, for many years has witnessed its transformation last month into the Appalachian Dream Center.

The 40,000-square-foot facility had changed ownership through successive sales of the coal mine and was donated to Church of God Care Ministries by its current owner, The A.T. Massey Coal Company.

The donation was inspired by the efforts of Pastor Michael Hartwell and his congregation of the Verdunville church, located outside nearby Logan, West Virginia, close to the Holden community. The church sponsors a broad range of care and outreach ministries, and the newly remodeled facility will house them.

Hartwell reflected on the building’s history. “The company store carried food, clothing, furniture and other necessities for my employees,” he said. “It was the center of life for everyone who lived in this area.”

The new role of the facility will be considerably broader, including a spiritual dimension, but the distribution of food, clothing and medical care will be prominent.

“The basement warehouse will hold 10 truckloads of food, including a walk-in freezer that will accommodate 40,000 pounds of frozen goods,” explained David Lorency, Field Director for Care Ministries.

Lorency and Hartwell announced the establishment of a senior adult center and a medical clinic on the first floor. During summer months, hot meals will be served to children. Many children in the area eat cooked meals only once a day when school is in session.

The senior adult center is named in honor of Donna Hartwell, the pastor’s wife, who died on Thanksgiving Day 2000. The many outreaches of the Verdunville congregation were inspired by her leadership and example. Her memory is honored with a plaque on the center’s wall.

Staffing for most of the ministries will be provided by volunteer workers from the Verdunville church and nearby congregations, under the direction of Pastor Hartwell.

“The people who live in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky are among the hardest-working, most industrious anywhere,” Hartwell said, “but with the mine closings in the past few years and the absence of alternative job opportunities, many families are suffering and hopeless.”

The building’s second floor is being remodeled to house visiting teams from among 2,000 LifeBuilders chapters, men’s ministry groups from local church congregations throughout the nation. They will come for three to seven days to restore homes, replace roofs, refurbish churches, repair autos and otherwise help area residents.

Furniture for 27 bedrooms has been donated by Dale and Brenda Hughes, owners of the Mountainview Holiday Inn in Cleveland, Tennessee.

On the third floor, a Master’s Commission providing training for rural outreach will be housed. On adjacent property, a community playground will provide care and recreation for children.

The inauguration of the Appalachian Dream Center took place March 15, 2001. Participants included Hartwell; Lorency; John D. Nichols, director of Care Ministries; Carl Richardson, John Gregory and James Byrd, board members; Ray H. Hughes Jr. of Lay Ministries; David Griffis, administrative bishop of West Virginia; and Bill George, editor in chief of Church of God Publications.

Guests from Joyce Meyer’s St. Louis Dream Center, a similar kind of ministry in Missouri, and the Christian Appalachian Project, a supporting partner of the Dream Center, also took part.

The Appalachian Dream Center is one of several cooperative ministries in areas touched by poverty involving Operation Compassion, the Children of the World project and other benevolence ministries of the denomination. God is truly doing a great work!

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