Program offers hope from ashes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Reverend Lee Moorer can remember all too well when the idea for it first came.

"It was January 10, 1999.

The sirens were screaming.

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I was standing outside in my bare feet in the middle of a cold, cold night watching helplessly while the Montgomery Fire Department tried to put out the blaze destroying the place I called home," Moorer recalls, the pain of the occasion still evident in his dark eyes.

"We had a smoke detector in that house and that allowed us to get out alive, but so many folks do not and it's an unacceptable tragedyI want to see every home in Butler County install a detector to prevent tragedies like the recent one in Montgomery where a whole family burned to death," Moorer exclaims.

Moorer and his fellow ministers Robert Lewis and R.D. Gandy have banded together and have come up with an ambitious plan to not only insure smoke detectors are in all county homes but also to provide free housing for those who have been burned out by fires.

Moorer explains their project. "We know these things are going to happen to someone at some time and we need to be prepared.

Now, the Red Cross will provide accomomodations for someone overnight after a fire, but they must vacate by the next morning.

"Where can the average family go where they can stay more than a couple of nights and be welcomed?

So our goal is to have a clean, sturdy trailer waiting for them to move into for up to four months if they need it

free of charge."

The group's organization, Christian Light Outreach Ministries, is spearheading this project. A non-profit organization, the local ministry is seeking to purchase several two- and three-bedroom trailers with furnishings that would allow a needy family a place to move in and start housekeeping with ease.

They plan to set them up in a convenient location outside of the city limits but "are still looking for the best place."

Moorer says he has spoken on several occasions to both Mayor Dexter McLendon and Greenville Fire Chief Mike Phillips about the new program and both men have pledged their support to the program. Phillips says he believes the organization has "a good program" in the works.

"There is a real need for something like this in our community.

I believe it has good potential," Phillips adds.

To support the cost of buying and maintaining the trailers, the ministry also will run a thrift shop in Greenville with used clothing, furniture, shoes and other household items.

Monies from this endeavor will help with expenses for the program.

"We will also have a fund to purchase personal items the families will need that can't be recycled

toothbrushes, tissues, that sort of thing," Moorer explains.

A door-to-door canvassing of neighborhoods throughout the city of Greenville is planned to find out which homes do not currently have detectors.

Smoke detectors will be available for purchase from the group who will also assist in installing them when necessary.

"Smoke detector sales will also help with our funds.

Our main source of perpetual funding will be through two or three other trailers we make available for rent to local families.

The rental income and monies from the thrift store and smoke detector sales should keep us going," Moorer notes.

So, what can the average person out in the community do to help make this worthy dream a reality?

"We need everybody's help. This is everybody's problem, you know.

Fire is an equal-opportunity destroyer; it doesn't care if you are black, white, rich, poor, whatever.

Our goal is to help out any family in need no matter what their race, color, creed or religion is," states Moorer.

Donations are being sought to help get the project off the ground.

Clothing, furniture, toys, shoes and other items are being accepted for donation and Moorer says he will be glad to come by and pick up any donations.

A food bank is being started with non-perishable items, and monetary donations of any amount will be "greatly appreciated", says Moorer.

"We want to get all the area churches, black and white, families, businesses and individuals to get on board with us with their prayers and support and we'll make this happen," Moorer says.

Moorer and the other project founders wish to stress their desire to keep this all above board' and promise that auditors will be on hand to routinely check and certify the ministry books.

"We know lots of folks may have more questions about this and we are amenable to that.

We'll be happy to answer any questions they have," remarks Moorer.

The ministry's headquarters is at 804 Wimberly Street in the little white building on the corner of Wimberly and South Perry.

Someone is usually available there during the day if anyone wants to stop in.

Monetary gifts should be made out and sent to: Christian Light Outreach Ministries, PO Box 1137, Greenville, Alabama 36037.

Their building is small

but their dreams are great.

"Eventually we want to have these rent-free shelters for burned-out families all across the county

in Georgiana, McKenzie, Brushey Creek, Mt Zion and so on.

"On down the line we want to see a special shelter for battered women and their children built, maybe out in the country so they'd be in a safer placeand a sort of youth home for troubled kids, that would be great, too," Moorer says.

Anyone who is interested in giving a donation or in simply discovering more about this ambitious project can contact Rev. Moorer daytime or evening at 382-2878.

"I truly feel this is my calling from God; this is what he wants me to do. But we're not worrying about who gets credit.

God does great things when folks don't care where the credit goes.

" We've got to look out for one another.

It's like that fellow said, don't ask for whom that bell is tolling

it's tolling for thee," Moorer says.