A Hope Day to lift up residents
Robert Rowley Park community event this weekend offers food, job prep and fun activities
BY LINDA LEUZZI
Robert Rowley Park will be hopping June 1.
That’s when three area churches, The Journey in East Patchogue, Victory Church in Bellport and Axis Church in East Patchogue, hope to welcome 750 visitors to Hope Day, a celebration for the residents of North Bellport by providing free haircuts, manicures, preparation for job interviews and other life-changing services, beginning at 11 a.m.
Axis Church pastor Kyle Watkins is the organizer, who reached out to the other area houses of worship for volunteers. Watkins pointed to Convoy of Hope, a faith-based organization in Springfield, Mo., that helps empower lives, as the launch for the first Convoy of Hope community event in North Bellport four years ago. “They decided to bring a huge humanitarian event to Long Island and they chose Robert Rowley Park,” Watkins explained. “It’s a lower-income neighborhood and there is a need. They wanted to bring an effort to help the beautiful people who live here.”
Watkins was a new pastor then who heard about the groceries, haircuts and lunch for kids and jumped in to volunteer.
“It brought tears to my eyes preparing young people and mothers for job interviews and what to say and how to write a resume,” he said.
Convoy of Hope has continued their efforts and Hope Day was brought to Granny Road Park in Gordon Heights after that by Axis Church.
“Then I said, ‘I think I can bring this to the Bellport area,’” he said. Besides North Bellport and Gordon Heights, another Hope Day will take place in Mastic; there are 31 altogether planned for Long Island, he said.
“It’s the first time our three churches are getting together to do this,” Watkins explained. Businesses, healthcare and government services have partnered to help out, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Suffolk County Police; there will be sites for mammograms and blood pressure readings. Locally, South Country Ambulance Company, Bellport Fire Department and South Country Library will be there.
“It was a good reaction when we announced it at our church,” commented Jodi Giambrone, a leader with The Journey Church in East Patchogue. “There are a good 25 volunteers who will be coming.” Preparations began two months ago, but it’s not unusual for The Journey to do outreach, she said. “A lot of what we do is team up with other churches to make their event that much better,” explained Giambrone, who added that church members work with Lighthouse Mission, right around the corner from their location.
Danielle Ibba, the point person at The Journey Church for Bellport’s Hope Day, explained some of the volunteer stations.
“We have a leader running the grocery line, 650 bags from Cornucopia Natural Foods in Sayville and Angels of Long Island in Patchogue,” she said. “We have a kids’ zone with blow-up bouncy [houses], children’s IDs, a table for making crowns, because we want all to feel they are kings and queens for a day for four hours. We have a community service tent that includes the superintendent of Eastern Suffolk BOCES and what they offer.”
The U.S. Army will be represented and Nike is offering sports events.
Want hip-hop? Kershol Anthony, who teaches hip-hop dance, will perform for 40 minutes.
As for ladies and gentlemen desiring a new look, step right up. You’ll get grooming treats.
Free haircuts from two master barbers, who are availing themselves with 11 of their students, will donate their time.
And for the ladies, those powerful women of grace, Ladies of Divine Destiny, are providing uplifting advice while professional hairstyling is underway.
“They will talk to the women about confronting their inner beauty,” said Watkins.n
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