Be a jewel for GEMS

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 14, 2004

GEMS is an all volunteer, non-profit organization dedicated to helping people who are experiencing one of life’s proverbial setbacks.

At least that’s the ideal situation for the little agency that struggles sometimes to survive.

I was truly appalled to learn this week when I met with GEMS Director Christal Deal; GEMS has been without funding for at least two months. I was even more dismayed to learn they could not meet their goal of helping families who, for various reasons, had no money to pay their rent. Worst of all, these families all had children to consider.

Try to imagine your family in such a situation at this wonderful time of year. Christmas without a place to live? Can you imagine how these parents must feel? Can you imagine even further how they will feel on Christmas morning when their children realize Santa couldn’t find them because they have no home?

This would be a detestable set of facts at anytime of year and it’s especially shameful at a time when we are supposed to be caring and sharing. What does this say about us as the citizens of Gates County? Can we stand back and be so hard hearted that we allow people to live without a decent home much less having some type of roof over their heads?

When an obviously broken-hearted Mrs. Deal shared the shocking statistics with me, I couldn’t help but wonder where these people went to bed on the night GEMS volunteers informed them there was no help forthcoming.

Are we to assume relatives took them into their homes? Not all of them, I know for a fact. I can say that because I actually encountered one woman and her 13-year old daughter as they were trying to get to a church to seek help. It’s ironic that they would look to a church for help when the churches of Gates County are ideally the primary source of funding for GEMS.

I took the woman and child with me to church and listened throughout the sermon to the little girl’s stomach growled loudly enough to alert people around us. I gave the candy to her that one of our church family, T.J. Joines, hands out as the congregation enters our church. She had already eaten hers and the mother’s. I felt so guilty sitting next to the child. I had eaten a nice breakfast prepared by my husband. This mother and child had no provider and no food.

I learned more than I wanted to about these two including that they had no food left in the unbelievable structure they called &uot;home.&uot; I also learned there was a 15-year old brother at the house. He’d eaten the last slice of bologna as his sister ate the last hot dog. Mom went without so much as a cup of coffee.

How could I go home to my oven? It was filled with a beautiful beef roast I was preparing for my family. We even had dessert. I had no choice other than turning my Buick around and heading back to Gatesville for groceries.

God must have been watching over that family because never in my life have I picked up anyone walking along the roadway. This time, that darned Buick found its own way over to them and stopped! They had groceries for the week.

I checked back with them the following week and learned the mother had attended the Upper Room Church luncheon and they also provided food for the family.

What about the families out there without someone to pick them up? How many Gates County children go to bed with their tummies roaring so loudly they cannot sleep in peace? No wonder these children have learning difficulties! This is truly a shameful set of events for our community and it should not continue.

GEMS sent out letters this month to the churches of Gates County requesting funding that pays for rent, utilities and heating fuels. With more than 50 churches in the county, they’ve heard back from only 10. That should be unacceptable to every minister as well as his congregation. Don’t they tell us we are to &uot;love one another?&uot;

I personally challenge the many community service organizations and clubs as well as the churches to step forward and hold out a helping hand to GEMS.

The recipients of GEMS generosity are not asking for a &uot;hand out,&uot; only a little help until they can get back on their feet.

Don’t we owe it to humanity, and our good Lord, to help others less fortunate than ourselves? I pray that every letter will be returned to GEMS with a check inside and I pray that you, as individuals, will open your hearts and wallets to help our brothers and sisters. Just imagine what good could come out of every adult in Gates County sent in a contribution. Find the GEMS address on the Index front page today and let your heart guide you.