Resident receives help from local church


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  • Malinda Bender, in the hat with the yellow band, and volunteers from Christ Church Newton’s Helping Hands program for eligible senior citizens.



— Malinda Bender recently welcomed a group of teens and adults from Christ Church Newton into her Andover home to clear out unused items and rubbish from her basement. The group had answered a call for assistance to the church’s Helping Hands program, a service designed for income-eligible senior citizens who need assistance with household maintenance projects. Bender, who had resided in the home for 27 years, had become overwhelmed with maintaining the 137-year-old structure following the untimely passing of her husband several years before.

Bender, who often participates as a volunteer with the Helping Hands program, was initially reluctant to ask for help. As time went on, however, she realized that the home which had once been a great source of pride and comfort to her, was gradually becoming a burden. “This house had been the light of my life for a long time, and now I’m struggling with it,” she admitted. The group moved items out of the basement which had been left by previous homeowners and filled a dumpster to the brim. Watching her fellow parishioners get to work ended up bringing her joy. “This was one of the last things I wanted to do but they made it fun. Here I was dealing with one of the hardest times of my life, when I felt like the world had fallen out from under me, and yet I had been granted such an extraordinary amount of grace that it rendered me speechless.”

Christ Church Newton offers the Helping Hands program to income-eligible Sussex County residents who need assistance with household projects. Participants must be referred to the church by the Sussex County Division of Senior Services or other social service agencies. Once a resident has been selected, a group of teens and adults from the parish visit the home and assist with lawn work, rubbish removal, light repairs, painting, landscaping and other maintenance tasks.

During a typical Helping Hands visit, a team of parishioners labor around the home, while additional volunteers visit with the family members, offering referrals to parish organizations and local agencies which can offer more long-term assistance. Christ Church has recently joined the Faith Community Health Partnership developed by Newton Medical Center. A parish nurse offers follow-up visits and referrals to community resources to those residents who have received assistance by the Helping Hands program.

“With our Helping Hands program we have the privilege of living our mission of being Christ’s presence in our community,” notes The Reverend Robert Griner, Rector of Christ Church Newton.

Those who are interested in accessing the services provided by the Helping Hands program at Christ Church are encouraged to contact the Sussex County Division of Senior Services at 973-579-0555 or seniorservices@sussex.nj.us. Information about Christ Church Newton can be found at www.christchurchnewton.org.

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