MONTGOMERY, Ala. – More than 100 Faulkner students, faculty and staff volunteers spent their Martin Luther King Jr. holiday serving the community and helping a local ministry, Mercy House on Monday, January 18.
Mercy House, a local, nonprofit outreach ministry has been serving the needs of Montgomery’s homeless, children, poor, and unemployed for 16 years. Mercy House is a daytime shelter for the homeless that provides a safe place for people to receive hot meals, wash and dry their clothes and find proper attire for job interviews and school. It also provides the use of bathrooms and showers, a library and computers with Wi-Fi and printers for homework and job searches.
Their mission is to honor God by helping knock down barriers that cause generational poverty.
Faulkner University Vice President of Student Services Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson said serving Mercy House to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday was a blessing.
Because of COVID-19, Faulkner’s annual Devoted 24/7 week of service, which is regularly held in the fall semester, was cancelled and moved to the spring. Thompson and Mercy House Executive Director Ken Austin were excitedly collaborating on ways for the Faulkner family to serve its community safely.
“During this time of COVID, it certainly is important for us to be careful, but we still have to live and people still have needs,” Thompson said. “I had a conversation with Ken Austin and his director of operations, Madison Darling a couple of weeks ago and I asked about serving and Ken said needs don’t go away. We just have to be creative and finds ways to do it that are safe. So Faulkner, let’s do this.”
Faulkner volunteers helped serve and prepare food, pick up trash, clean neighborhood homes, organize the Mercy House library and work on landscaping one of the Mercy House’s neighborhood homes in west Montgomery.
About midday, another group of Faulkner volunteers across town paused their work organizing and cleaning to participate in a special ribbon-cutting ceremony at Mercy House’s newest location on East Delano Avenue, the former WSFA-TV building. About ten months ago, WSFA moved into their current location on Dexter Avenue and searched for an organization to donate the building to. Austin readily accepted and began plans to transform the building into MAP, Ministry About People.
The Faulkner University Chorus sang at the event where many people from the community including community and religious leaders, Faulkner President Dr. Mike Williams and his family, representatives from Montgomery, Mayor Steven Reed’s office, Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton Dean, former Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and others came out to show their support of Austin and continuing his vision.
“At Faulkner University, we can think of no better way than to honor the legacy of Dr. King than by serving today with our faculty, staff and students at Mercy House,” Williams said.