Every church has a “backyard” filled with mission opportunities. Presently, the Calimesa Church is busy turning one of their backyard needs into opportunities to serve.
When we searched for neighbors in our community who could use some help, we found more than we could imagine at Villa Calimesa Trailer Park. We call it “Adopt-a-Park,” and one day per month students from Mesa Grande Academy spend two hours assisting residents who are at risk of fines or eviction. Those at risk tend to be elderly and unable to physically manage their homes.*
We pull weeds, trim trees, haul rocks, remodel landscapes, wash cars, replace dangerous floors and porches, and all kinds of house cleaning. As we have worked, we’ve come to know these neighbors by name, and our neighbors now know there is a school and a church close by that welcomes them and prays for them. On a recent visit we overheard one resident ask another, “Are you a member of their church? Is that why they help you?” And the answer came back, “No, you don’t have to be. These people just like to help.”
When we reviewed demographic info for the Yucaipa Valley, we learned there are more than 50 trailer parks in the area, many of which have fallen into disrepair and have become havens for at-risk lifestyles (drugs, primarily). These parks are filled with ministry potential, especially the poorest of them, because their residents need more social services. Unfortunately, the more dangerous parks are not safe for our student population, so we chose to experiment with a cleaner park that is in a safer location.
Eventually, we hope to send a church team into one of the more high-risk parks. Our church is full of health care professionals and educators of all kinds and there is much we can do to help those living in marginalized environments. It is a very exciting opportunity!