"As soon as the coronavirus began impacting North Carolina in March,our development directors began making phone calls,” Brenda Gray says. “It was important for us to be in touch with our donors and pastors to make sure they were okay. They are great friends and very much a part of the BCH family."
Gray, who serves as Executive Vice President, Development and Communications, suspended the daily, face-to-face visits the directors regularly make with donors, pastors and church leaders across the state.
“The concern was for those we visit as well as reducing exposure for our staff members,” she asserts. “We pivoted quickly, and instead of the visits, we began calling, emailing and sending cards and letters.”
The response was great.
“Our amazing development directors approach this as ministry,” Gray reminds. “There have been many times that a call one of them made came at just the right moment. Each one has been able to encourage and pray with donors or pastors.”
BCH’s friends make a difference. As the development directors contacted people, the ones they called quickly shared their concern, wanting to know what impact COVID-19 was having on children, residents and staff.
“We have the best supporters,” Gray says. “At a time when we were showing concern for them, all they could do is ask how they could help us.”
In spite of uncertain financial times, churches and donors have been faithful–– with many giving sacrificially. The postponed Food Roundup has made it difficult for BCH, but gifts of grocery food cards and food items in the interim have helped.
“Words cannot express our gratitude,” Gray says. “Even at times like this, our donors and churches are making a difference.”
I called a faithful donor and friend who loves Baptist Children's Homes. She was distraught over the devastation the virus had brought to her family, community and church. My heart broke as I listened. She felt alone. Two weeks later, I called and she asked if I could come and have lunch on the patio––using social distancing measures. I agreed.
During lunch, this sweet friend began to cry. But this time, her tears were tears of joy and gratitude. Her heart was lighter. She said that Dr. Blackwell had been in contact as well as other staff members. She thanked me for my calls and concern. She said that we were like her family. It was a powerful moment of genuine connection and fellowship.
Although our visit was different because of the coronavirus pandemic, our time together was beautiful evidence of BCH’s mission to share hope and change lives. The donor made the statement that they would commit to help us change lives with “every day that God gives her.” She also affirmed her commitment of sharing hope during the pandemic. She said the crisis changed their life because of our commitment to our champions, those who support Baptist Children's Homes.
Carolyn Bailey suffered a stroke in the midst of the pandemic. After Carolyn’s stroke, her husband Phil and I talked often by phone and prayed together. The couple are wonderful examples of people who stand with BCH in caring for children. Phil Bailey is a special friend of mine and the director of missions for Polk Baptist Association.
Polk Association is amazing. Over the years, the little association of only 24 churches has given BCH more than $100,000. After the food drive was postponed due to the COVID-19, I called Phil to discuss our needs due to the cancellation. A few days later, he called to say that a number of churches decided to send money and food cards anyway.
The pastors of the churches agreed that we might need extra help before the rescheduled food drive takes place. They made the needs of feeding the children a priority. By the way, Carolyn is improving, and the total gifts from Polk Association has topped $8,000.
It was a dreary, rainy day––the fourth straight in a row. I was calling donors to check to see how folks were coping during the COVID-19 crisis. One particular call was to a sweet friend who had lost both her husband and her daughter within the year. She said it had been a horrible day, a day of many tears and heartache. I listened as she shared such wonderful memories about her loved ones. It was humbling as I prayed with her, asking for His comfort and peace, and shared a scripture of hope (Romans 15:13).
At the end of our time, she thanked me for the call. She said it had been a God-send and asked if I would come visit when things were better. She invited me for coffee and a visit on her porch. I said I would.
What a privilege to love on our donors and dear friends. They matter to me and to this ministry––we are in it together. This is what Baptist Children’s Homes is all about.
Shortly after the announcement to suspend the 2020 Food Round Up, I received a phone call from a concerned donor. His question was simple: “What can I do to help feed the children?”
I shared with him what we needed to purchase food and cleaning supplies in the months ahead. He then shared his concern and our need with his pastor, Darren Johnson of Hebron Baptist Church in Statesville.
The church leadership unanimously voted to provide a gift of $7,500. When I asked the pastor about this gift, he simply said: “To God Be the Glory”!
Jerry Anderson of Woodlawn Baptist Church in Conover is a huge supporter of BCH. When the final decision was made to cancel this year’s food collection, Jerry just couldn’t let it go. He first planned an “Emergency Collection.”
Then the COVID-19 shutdown the churches making it unsafe to collect and deliver food to our campuses. Well, Jerry wasn’t finished. After some prayer and thoughts, he elected to make a video and a webpage link to share churchwide. The video included a personal message from Dr. Blackwell on several ways to give and support BCH. The church has raised to date more than $9,000. Other church members gave directly to BCH. Way to go, Woodlawn ! Jerry never gave up trying to find a way for his church to help feed the children.
It was shortly after the coronavirus outbreak that I called Robert and Rose Swain of Dublin County. Rose had sent a note to inform BCH that she and her husband named the ministry in their last will and testament, and I wanted to thank the couple personally. I called their home and Rose answered. I introduced myself and shared the role I played in the ministry.
Then, I stated my purpose for calling. I shared how BCH had received her note that afternoon and I was calling to let them know how much their decision meant to us and the many children and residents we serve. Rose was surprised, yet happy that she was receiving personal confirmation so soon. She said, "I just wanted someone to know that we care.”
I assured Rose that their actions were evidence of their love and care for children and families. She explained that her husband Bob had been scheduled for heart surgery that week; however, because of the virus, his surgery was postponed. Bob’s condition was critical and Rose was disappointed and concerned the surgery had been delayed. I shared my concern for both her and Bob. And then I asked if I could pray for them and ask God to protect Bob until his surgery could be rescheduled––sooner than later.
After my prayer, I asked if I could stay in contact with them and promised to continue to pray for Bob.
Fortunately Bob’s surgery took place a week later and it was successful. I was diligent to call them often to check on Bob. Rose has expressed, over and over, her appreciation for BCH’s love and support. I told her it was a privilege and reminded her “that's what friends are for.”
You can help during this time by giving online at www.bchfamily.org/givenow
Article by Jim Edminson, Charity & Children Editor