Teens from Trinity United Methodist Church's "Mowing Ministry" spend their summer helping people in need.
Teens from Trinity Church's youth group in Tuscaloosa spend their summer helping people in need with their "Mowing Ministry."
August 2, 2004
By Shanta Bryant Gyan*
a mother sick with cancer, life for Jan Porter, a member of Trinity
United Methodist Church in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was always hectic. She was
constantly schlepping back and forth from the doctor’s office and
hospital for treatments, which was two hours away, to her mother’s home.
once at her mother’s house, Porter still had to cook, clean and care
for her mother. The last thing on her mind was mowing her mother’s lawn
in the hot Alabama sun.
in south Alabama, where the grass grows more than half the year, lawns
must be tended and mowed frequently. After seeing the grass grow higher
and higher by the day, reality soon set in that she would have to take
hours out of her already busy schedule to mow the lawn. The choices
boiled down to either mowing it herself or paying money that she
couldn’t necessarily spare.At that time, she wished someone would offer to mow, rake and weed the lawn.
days I would see a neighbor riding his lawn mover and wished he would
whip over and do my mother’s lawn,” recalled Porter.
Jan Porter, a former missionary, is the founder of Trinity United Methodist Church's "Mowing Ministry."
Jan Porter, a former missionary, is the founder of Trinity Church's "Mowing Ministry."
10 years later, Porter, a former missionary, remembers those days
vividly and decided that she wanted to help others who are sick, elderly
and on a limited income to worry about one less thing: the lawn.
The vast majority of older Americans want to live independently and do for themselves.Housework they can handle, but yard work is another story.
the “Mowing Ministry” at Trinity Church began this summer where the
church’s youth group pitched in to help--free of charge. “This was the
year we’ve been able to do it,” said Porter.
Porter had the idea, she did not have any lawn mowers or tools to get
started – or even people to help. She prayed and prayed about it. Then,
friends donated lawn mowers, she purchased a pick-up truck for $1,200
and Lowe’s Hardware store gave her a discount to buy a truck-trailer.
The people in need of mowing assistance she discovered randomly through her daily activities.
found one person while talking with her hairdresser, who immediately
suggested a woman who was also getting her hair done in the salon.
time, Porter was stuck in traffic and said she asked God to show her
people to help. Then she noticed an elderly women entering a house with a
lawn that looked like it had not been tended to in a long while.
Embarrassed to go up and ask if she needed help, Porter would drive by
the house often. “I would just watch the house,” she said.
morning as she drove by, a car pulled up in the elderly woman’s
driveway and she recognized Fran Viselli, a well-known person in
community, who was visiting his mother.
“I asked if he needed help mowing the lawn and I said, ‘I’ll do it,’” said Porter.
Other people in need have been referred to her.
The "Mowing Ministry" group says a prayer before beginning their day.
The "Mowing Ministry" group says a prayer before beginning their day of yard work.
Wednesday before church, Porter and Trinity’s youth group mow, rake and
weed yards. Some days it’s only one or two teens, other days it’s as
many as seven or eight. “It’s a different group every week,” she said.
the Tuscaloosa teens, the hard work of mowing and tending the lawn is
pure joy. “It just feels really good inside to help people that are no
longer able to do things,” said 15-year-old Andy Sherrill.
of frequent trips to the hospital, the mower ministry had been a
godsend for the Visellis. “It helps in many ways, first of all it takes a
burden off of me, that allows me to spend more time with my mother,
meeting her needs,” Fran Viselli said.
volunteers with the “Mower Ministry” can mow the Viselli lawn in one
hour, where it could take a single mower as long as five hours.
Sue Free, 79, who has had four operations in four months and no longer
has the strength for yard work, the ministry has made life much easier.
“Oh, heavens to Betsy! You don’t know how much I appreciate it,” said
addition to helping the elderly, the ministry gives the church’s teens a
chance to “be the hands and feet of Christ,” said Porter, adding, “it
brings an awareness of serving others.”
“I just feel like I’m helping them out,” said 10-year-old Katie Head, “it feels good.”
*Shanta Bryant Gyan is a freelance writer based in the Washington-area.