“When this fire is lit every Monday night for the man cave Bible study the drug sales on the street stop, the solicitation stops, and men from their teens to their nineties gather to study and pray.” ~Glenn Paddock
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”― Edmund Burke
“Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good” – the Apostle Paul
I would like to tell you a little bit about my friends Glenn and Morgan Paddock. I don’t know many people who have larger hearts for their community, and are more committed to giving back to making Savannah a better place to live.
It is this heart for Savannah and a Christlike love for people that drove them to move into their house at 34th and Reynolds in order to help make a difference in this midtown Savannah neighborhood.
One thing that the Paddocks have recognized is that it is very hard to make a difference in the community without being a presence in the community. Living here helps them to identify with the burdens and struggles of the local neighborhood.
However, living here also allows them to experience it’s many surprising Joys. Here are just a few joys that I know of:
- Hopscotch at 9:30 pm with children who are still out playing in the street.
- Neighborhood movie nights outside with a big white sheet and a projector.
- Crafts and projects on the back deck.
- Trips to local baseball games.
- Watching a young man learn how to use a drill for the first time or learning some other useful around-the-house project.
- Helping girls get the experience of designing their own clothes and putting on a fashion show for the community.
- Helping a single mom find a place of her own to call home.
This is just a very, very short list of things that the Paddocks are able to experience because of their commitment to being a presence in the neighborhood.
The basketball pad gives the neighborhood kids a place to play. The back deck gives the kids a place to learn, hang out, and sometimes eat hot dogs. The fire in the fire pit every Monday night lets the neighborhood know that somebody is home and they care about people.
The Dream Campaign house is a place that people in the neighborhood know they can get help. If they cannot find the help they need at the Dream Campaign they know that Glenn and Morgan can get them connected to people who can.
In a time when it seems that relationships, especially between ethnic groups, police, and communities are only breaking down or disintegrating completely this two-story house may as well be a lighthouse in a dark and stormy sea of tension, fear, and anger.
Children may show up at the door at any hour of the night needing someone to listen, basic household items, or protection from gunshots.
Whatever the need, their previous experience in relationship with Glenn and Morgan have told them that the Dream Campaign is a safe place.
Relationships are the glue that hold a community together. When relationships break down so do communities. The Paddocks, by being a presence in the neighborhood and working to build relationships here, have gone a long way to restoring this community to health.
Giving not taking . . .
. . .Unless it means taking kids to summer camp.
When children and families get connected with the Dream Campaign they are able to have experiences that they normally would not be able to take part in. This is because Glenn and Morgan are givers not takers.
They are giving back to this community in ways that are largely unrecognized. But, when you know what to look for, they are plainly evident.
Two major ways that I think the Dream Campaign is blessing this community by giving back is through giving time and opportunity.
By simply living here and giving of their time to the families and especially the children in their neighborhood the neighborhood is changing little by little. Time spent here and there at meals, learning activities, small groups, movie nights, late night emergencies, going to baseball games, and in many other ways slowly adds up.
Hope that was once small or, most likely, nonexistent begins to grow like a tiny plant rooted in the hearts that the Paddocks touch. You might say that God has given them the blessing of a green thumb for the cure of hurting souls. This major blessing grows out of the simple gift of giving of their time.
However, I’m sure if you were to ask them they would just simply say they’re doing what they feel called to do, and anyone can care for people.
Of the many opportunities they give, their major goal is to give students the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Boys and girls have the opportunity to learn basic life skills such as: learning how to ride a bike, fish, cook, sew, take care of a house, and help others through community service.
Students who come to the Dream Campaign begin to develop a bigger vision for their lives because they see that someone was willing to invest in who they are as people. This is both inspiring and empowering.
Taking part in simple opportunities to go to camp, learn a skill, help others, or give back to the community in which they live teaches these students that their lives matter and that they can make a difference for good in their families, with their friends, and in their community.
These students learn to give more than they take and everyone benefits.
Leaving things better than when you found them
It is a simple rule of the kindergarten class, clean up your mess, and leave your spot better than when you found it.
The Dream Campaign goes above and beyond in one simple yet profound way.
They adopted a spot that was not even theirs.
This neighborhood didn’t have to be theirs, but they had a vision to make a better place for some people. As a result all of Savannah is better off.
Now, instead of a back yard (which students were happy to play in before) they have a basketball goal, a fire pit, and a deck where relationships, hope, and dreams continue to develop.
Dream Campaign students helped to raise the money for the fire pit and the basketball pad that now impacts the community in far greater ways than they could have anticipated.
These things not only provide a place to gather and play, but because of the Bible study around the fire on Monday nights men in the community are being built up and equipped to take better care of themselves, their families, and their neighborhood.
The light from the fire grows as light from the Word reaches hearts and changes lives. The joy from the game grows as joy from relationships moves from house to house to help people see themselves and their neighbors from a different perspective—that of a friend.
How you can help
You have an important role to play here as well. What dreams have you been holding back on? Let the Dream Campaign inspire you to take action in your own sphere of influence.
You can have an influence in the lives of the people around you in the same simple ways. It may not be easy, but it can be as simple as meeting the needs of a neighbor.
Secondly, consider getting involved with the Dream Campaign. They have one project you can be involved with this week.
A Garden of Hope.
They need a few people to help provide the following items for a raised bed garden:
- Top soil
- Cedar planks and stakes
The Dream Campaign students will be able to help care for the plants and beautify the neighborhood at the same time.
What we learned from the fire pit is that when people have ownership over their space it instills hope, pride, and care for a place they call home.
What will you do to care for the place you call home? Would you like to give someone else the opportunity to dream for theirs?
find out more at: www.helpmedream.org