By Terry Harris, Staff Writer
4:30 p.m. | August 17, 2017
SUSSEX – Mars Hill AME Zion Church members are busily putting the final touches on two important upcoming community events – A public Workshop on August 23 offering important information – and lunch – for seniors, and a Back To School Extravaganza/Community Night on August 25.
Pastor Willie Dixon, a Newport News native who describes himself as “a Southern boy who wanted to get back to close to where my roots were,” was excited about his recent move back to the area from his charge in Pennsylvania and eager to address local needs he felt that the church should – and could meet. The two events arose, in part, from his commitment to make a difference in the area.
“When I made visits here,” Dixon said, “I noticed that everyone we visited had a medicare book, and I’d ask if they understood anything about that or the Medicare Advantage Plan and nobody knew. So we got back in the car and prayed about having a workshop that would explain to the residents of Sussex County what Medicare actually does and the differences between Medicare and other plans.”
As he and Gloria Holloman, Church Program Coordinator, discussed the need, he said that they agreed that it was a good idea, and “we just took the principal that Christ would do – whatever is done to least of our brothers is done to me. In my driving around in the county coming to church, I saw some blighted properties and I understood that we had abandoned ones and maybe some financial issues. We were concerned about the quality of life people may have and how to improve that.”
Pastor Dixon said that Holloman took the extra step of contacting other agencies – like Housing and Urban Development. The result is the Senior Information Event at the church, where, in addition to a free lunch for all who attend, there will be a number of presentations about various agencies that can provide valuable assistance to seniors. Agencies represented will include Sussex County Social Services with information about Medicare and other senior programs, Sussex Housing Authority, Crater Agency on Aging to discuss the Medicare Supplement, Horizon Healthcare to talk about options for people without health insurance, as well as someone from Habitat for Humanities and Divine Home Healthcare.
The August 23 event will be held from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., and Pastor Dixon said that reservations are not required, but it would be helpful if people could call ahead so they would know how many to prepare for.
In the midst of planning the senior event, Pastor Dixon said that he had another epiphany.
“I saw the income level in Wakefield and Sussex, so we wanted to provide back to school supplies to help out. Gloria came up with a solicitation minibus to sit on the property and fill up with back to school supplies. Time was short, and since we also wanted to do something fun for kids and families since school is starting up right away, on August 25, we’ll be having a Community Night Out – a Back to School Extravaganza – at the church from 5-8. We’ll have a waterslide, a bounce house, face painting, the Sheriff’s department will be doing ID kits, several agencies with information about resources for the kids and much more, along with hot dogs and chips – all free – and then we’ll give the kids the school supplies and show a children’s movie on a 12 foot movie screen.”
Dixon said that all anyone attending the event needs to bring is a lawn chair or blanket to sit on and an appetite for fun.
“Our whole attempt is to be a blessing to young people and to the community, and to provide some things to help ease the burden of back-to-school. So we’re soliciting anyone who can to bring donations of school supplies – backpacks, notebook paper, notebooks, tablets, pens, pencils – anything the kids can use for back to school – to the church, and we will either give it all away that night or donate it to the school district, depending on what is donated.”
Both events will take place at Mars Hill AME Zion Church, 111 Williams Lane in Wakefield, and the numbers to call for reservations for the Senior Event or to inquire about making donations of school supplies, or how to have them picked up for the Back To School Event are (757) 899-2064, (757) 714-7124, or 757-556-4266.