COLUMBIA – More than 30 members of Karis Community Church gathered Saturday and organized at a church-rented loft above Lakota Coffee shop on Ninth Street, not certain as to where they would serve the Columbia community, but certain that they would serve it.
Virginia Robinson's house was one of eight destinations on the group's “Love Thy Neighbor(hood)” program, which devoted Valentine’s Day to an alternative expression of love.
Robinson is 61 years old, lives alone and suffers from arthritis and heart problems that necessitate many of the 20 medications she consumes in a day. She uses a walker to get about her trailer home off Range Line Street, which contains heavy furniture and mounds of possessions she must box and move to a nearby lot.
“They’re selling the park,” Robinson said. “They’re going to put apartments out here so they made me an offer that they’d move me to another one; it’ll be a little cheaper rent.”
For the young and the healthy this task is not daunting, but for Robinson, who is “always” in constant pain from chronic arthritis, it can seem nearly impossible.
“It’s really eating my body away,” Robinson said from her living room chair. “It’s just deteriorating me.”
Robinson expressed her gratitude for the volunteers around her, cleaning the walls around her with rags, swaying back and forth on their toes while others packed her belongings into donated cardboard boxes.
“I think it’s fine,” Robinson said of the group. “I couldn’t do it myself because I have arthritis eating from my neck on through, and there’s not much they (doctors) can do.”
Jessica Spanglehour, executive director at the Boone County Council on Aging, helped facilitate the charitable act.
“The mission of the Council on Aging is to connect low-income seniors with community resources,” Spanglehour said. “We have opportunities like this all the time, we’re always looking for volunteers.”
Ryan Worley, deacon of the Shalom branch of Karis, who was not at Robinson’s home, said he found Valentine’s Day fitting to do what the church manages to do on a monthly basis.
“We were just looking at the calendar like, ‘Valentine’s Day? Would Valentine’s Day be a good day?’” Worley said. “Why not take a day that’s normally directed at love and caring anyways? You know people are already in that mindset, but then redirect it away from the couple mentality and redirect it toward our community and our neighborhoods.”
Worley also said the “Love Thy Neighbor(hood)” program was a projection of the love and caring that the group experiences from God.
“God has expressed love and service to us and care for us,” Worley said. “Well then we in the same way, as a church in small ways, go and express love to people. We serve people, and we want to demonstrate that we love you, we care for you, you’re valued. And that’s all because God has shown us that.”
Some of the other volunteer objectives Saturday were to assist The Arbors at Bluff Creek Terrace; which provides Alzheimer’s assisted living, Rainbow House, which is a children’s emergency and advocacy center; and a collaborative effort with Love INC to help deliver furniture to two women new to Columbia.