Historic Chipley Center at Pine Mountain opened a new outdoor garden exhibit honoring COVID-19 heroes on Sunday, June 26.
The center received a $19,500 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities which funded this project along with others, spokeswoman Rachel Crumbley said.
The exhibit currently honors two groups of heroes, Bethany Baptist Church of Pine Mountain and the Pastor’s Pantry of the First United Methodist Church, who have worked to reduce food insecurity in the community during the pandemic.
Other COVID-19 heroes in the Pine Mountain area will be selected this fall, Vice President Cindy Bowden told the Ledger-Enquirer, and will change three times a year honoring different types of heroes.
The next group will include firefighters, paramedics and police officers, she said, and the center is currently asking for nominations for the third group of COVID-19 heroes.
“I think it’s our job as a history museum in this area to make sure you not only remember people like Horace King in the 1800s,” she said. “But you remember there are people now who are heroes. Get people moving and shaking making sure the community stays together.
Deliver meals after church closure due to COVID
Several members of Bethany Baptist Church worked together to prepare and deliver meals to homes when many older members of the church did not have access to food.
Josephine Bray is the church treasurer and her husband Curtis Bray is chairman of the deacon board. Both were worried about members of their community when the pandemic started and the church closed for about six to eight months, Curtis said.
“We had people getting sick right here in our neighborhood,” he said.
When two families who lived near the Brays caught COVID-19, the couple worked with other church members to deliver meals to the families. The group left meals on the porches because they couldn’t enter the house, Josephine said.
The organization continued to deliver food to people who couldn’t get to the grocery store or were experiencing financial hardship for about two months at the start of the pandemic. Some of the people who received food wept because they were grateful for what the church was doing, Curtis said.
“We want to keep (this organization) together because we don’t know if it’s ever going to happen again,” he said. “But there are always people who need help. So if this translates from one emergency to another, we always want to help.
“A small, very small place”
In 2019, a tornado swept through South Pine Mountain, leaving some residents in need and the small pantry at First United Methodist Church completely out of food. The parish priest of the church asked Lorraine Berry to be the director of pastor’s pantryand she agreed to build the pantry.
“Then we found out we could shop at the Feeding the Valley food bank,” Berry said. “And that was a godsend.”
The Pastor’s Pantry operates with approximately four volunteers and is open every Monday. If people cannot come on Monday, the food pantry will leave bags of food for the church administrative assistant to distribute.
“When COVID came out, we felt like we still had to do one because people needed food more than ever,” Berry said.
The pantry took care to create social distancing and wear masks. Rather than allowing people into the pantry, they made customers wait in the lobby and brought them bags full of groceries.
Helping to ensure those confined to their homes have access to healthy food is one of Berry’s priorities. During the pandemic, she started helping bring food to four homebound people each month and knows another woman who started coming to the pantry once a month to pick up food for a homebound friend. home who would tell him what he needed over the phone.
“She’s packing her suitcases,” she said. “And I think that makes her special as well. She took half her day to do this for them.
Being honored by the exhibit for the pantry’s work throughout the pandemic is important because it reflects the work the pastor’s pantry is doing, Berry said. She hopes the exhibit will raise awareness of the pantry so that more people can enjoy the resource.
“We’re just a tiny little place here,” Berry said. “(We are) one piece feeding people, and we could feed many more.”