Local ministry returns

Published 3:22 pm Friday, April 15, 2022

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

In 2015, Susan and Jack Barrett of Jemison founded Our Helping Hands of Bama Ministry — a ministry that was dear to Susan’s heart.

“Back in 2005, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer, and praise the Lord, I have overcome that obstacle in my life,” Susan said. “While going through all of that, I was forced to quit work and was a single mother of two boys. It was a daily struggle, but the Lord blessed me with some amazing people. Needless to say, my worries of no Christmas for my boys, no food to feed them and no utilities were washed away by the help and graciousness of the people the Lord put into my life. During that time, I had to go up to UAB Hospital every week. I would see at least three homeless people each trip doing without things that most take for granted. I knew I had to make a difference.”

Several years later in 2015, when her financial situation and health were better, Susan created Our Helping Hands of Bama, a 501c3 organization to reach out to the homeless community of Alabama. She and her family made brown-bag lunches and distributed them across Central Alabama to homeless communities living in parks and under bridges. However, in late 2016 the Barretts were forced to stop their ministry work after an automobile accident.

After closing the organization’s doors, Susan still had a strong desire to help others, so on Jan. 1, 2022 they revived the ministry.

“This time, we are focusing more on our community of Chilton County,” said Susan. “Our Helping Hands of Bama is dedicated to helping families in need. So far this year, we have helped many families that have lost everything because of house fires. Some families come to us through domestic violence situations. We have a clothes closet and food pantry. So people are able to come in and select clothing and we give them a week’s worth of groceries.”

The Barretts accept donations and are available to pick up yard sale items.

“Once your yard sale is over, we can pick up the items that are left over and didn’t sell,” said Susan. “We keep all of the clothing to stock our clothing closet. We sell the items in our yard sale, and the money that we receive from that is used to purchase other needs that families have.”

Examples of purchases made are restocking the food pantry and providing Thanksgiving meals and Christmas presents to those in need. In July, the organization is planning to host a backpack giveaway to children in need.

Needs are identified through an online application found on the organization’s social media page, “Our Helping Hands of Bama.” Once the application is sent, Barrett’s phone is immediately alerted.

The organization’s biggest needs are donated items from the community, clothing of all sizes, socks and underwear, which is always the first things that people need. The organization is also in need of volunteers to organize the clothing closet and to build clothing racks.

The Barretts hope that in the future a local business owner will donate a storefront to store the items distributed.

“Right now, we are running this ministry out of our home so it is by appointment only and isn’t as professional looking as I would like it to be,” said Susan. “We have turned our dining room into a food pantry with shelving. We are also way out in the country. It would be nice to have a place more easily accessible and central to town. Donating a storefront would be tax-deductible for the building owner.”

For more information, contact Susan Barrett at ourhelpinghandsofbama@gmail.com or Facebook “Our Helping Hands of Bama.”