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Couple shows love by serving

January 20, 2015

By J. Blake Ragsdale

Jazmine giggles as she whizzes around the York Cottage living room. Pat and Harold Clapp smile as they sit and watch the four-year-old play. With a sudden bounce, Jazmine leaps into Pat’s lap. She wraps her tiny arms around her giving a big hug.

“You two have done so much for us,” Jazmine’s mother Lisa says as she watches the retired couple play with her daughter.

As volunteers at Mills Home in Thomasville, the Clapps have become close to Jazmine, Lisa and many of the single mothers and children from Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) Family Care program.

Seeing the lives of BCH’s residents changed through the ministry, and receiving hugs from children like Jazmine, is what makes volunteering a passion for the couple.

The Clapps first learned about BCH as a young couple and spent time with children from Mills Home when attending First Baptist Church in Archdale.

Today, Pat and Harold are members of Green Street Baptist Church in High Point. A few years ago, Harold selected Mills Home for their Sunday School class to support.

Harold remembers being amazed by the interactions between class members and residents from Blackwell Cottage during a group lunch.

“One of our seniors had recently lost his spouse, and I remember Angela from Blackwell Cottage sitting and talking with him,” Harold recounts. “He changed after she spoke with him. He had his smile back.”

“These girls didn’t know what our class members were going through, but the Lord did,” Pat shares. “He sent them to help.”

In 2012, Pat felt God leading her to help BCH in a volunteer role. It resulted in a life-changing decision.

“I let work know that I was leaving my job to go to BCH,” Pat recalls. “I had worked at my job for 37 years and thought I’d retire when I reached 50 years. But the Lord told me to retire early and volunteer at BCH.”

Incredibly, Pat left her job before ever discussing volunteer opportunities with BCH. Unknown to Pat, while she was working out the details of her early retirement, BCH’s executive Brenda Gray was saying a special prayer.

“We were short-staffed in the development and communications department and did not have the budget to hire someone,” Gray recalls. “I was praying that God would send us a volunteer, someone servant-minded who was gifted with office management skills.”

Just days later, the Clapps approached Gray and the department’s office manager Alan Williams about volunteering. They connected Pat and Harold with Family Care.

“We didn’t know anything about Family Care when we first began, but Harold and I used to be foster parents to four siblings,” Pat explains. “We always believed in keeping children together.”

Family Care is BCH’s program that helps hard-working, single mothers rebuild their lives while caring for their children.

Through the Clapps’ connection with the program, their church has helped some of the mothers who have completed the program through its furniture ministry. The church was able to provide furnishings as they moved into their homes.

“One of the mothers we became close to called me at home when she was studying for her Certified Nurses Assistant certification,” Pat shares. “She was so nervous. I encouraged her to depend on the Lord for help. Later she called to let me know she had passed.”

In addition to Family Care, Pat and Harold began assisting Gray and Williams in their office.

“They have been a Godsend,” Gray says. “Pat and Harold help in so many ways. They are among the most generous people you will find.”

It is rare if a day goes by when Pat and Harold are not on the Mills Home campus helping in some way. Harold often pulls into the Blackwell Cottage driveway with a box of doughnuts.

“The kids call me ‘Mr. Doughnut,’” Harold chuckles.

“I’ve volunteered other places, but it’s different when God calls you to do something,” Pat says. “I look back at things I’ve experienced in my life, especially as a foster parent, and see how those pieces of my life were all in place to prepare me for doing this.”

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