Meet Ruda, Grace and Pink three of the ladies from the church ladies league . They are seniors in Shiloh church. Ruda is a seventy five year old recent widow with three children and seven grandchildren. Grace is a proud, and sassy sixty eight year old with another soon to be ex-husband and no children. Finally, there is Pink a seventy one year old woman who has never been married but has six children and fifteen grandchildren.
These ladies have come together to help the needy in their church and community. These ladies are on a collision course with destiny. What starts out as a campaign to help the needy will bring laughter, tears, sadness and joy to the ladies of the church league. They will find strength and comfort in their faith in God, their love of Christ and one another as they truly begin to understand the plight of their community and church and ultimately what family really is. The church ladies league will amaze.
Ruda March walked from the neighborhood grocery on White Avenue down Cold Street to her home. She had moved back into the community she had grown up in some sixty years ago. As she walked, Ruda noticed all of the changes to the community some not for the better. Ruda thought to herself “who would have thought the community would have turned out like this.” She wondered what happened. Once upon a time people cared and looked out for one another. People actually took the time to say good morning or good evening to those they passed on the street. Today people seem so angry and they don’t want to be spoken too. People seem so unfriendly. They have left trash lying in the streets and on the grass and the sidewalks, graffiti covering the sides of many of the old buildings that use to house restaurants, grocery stores, night clubs and movie houses. Rudaremembered the good times shared in those places. That building on the left, use to be March’s shoe repair shop. “That was where I met my Sam,” Ruda thought. Sam had moved to the city to come to work for his uncle. It was love at first site. They had married within a year. She and Sam had found a little place on Cold Street and lived there for the next thirty five years until Sam’s mother became ill and they moved back to the country to look after her until she passed. There she lived with Sam until his death a few months ago. God had been good to Ruda. She and Sam had shared more than fifty years of marriage. They had their share of ups and downs but the ups outweighed the downs. Ruda needed a change. She needed to feel needed. She wanted to be able to help someone else while she still could. She wanted be around familiar surrounding. Ruda went home.
Grace Sandbag for the moment lives on Done Avenue. Grace and her second husband Ichabod are parting ways, only Grace did not realize it was about to happen. Seventy year old Ichabod recently ran off with his twenty five year old assistant and cleaned out his and Grace’s bank accounts and took out a second mortgage on their home of twenty five years. Grace is ready for vengeance and the wrath of God to fall on Ichabod and his girlfriend.
Pink Samuels lived in subsidized housing on Blue Boulevard from the time she was born until six months ago when she played the lottery and won. All of her relations those she knew and did not know, real and fake came out of no where wanting a hand out. Pink got angry! She’d raised her children alone, when their father was killed in the war. She wanted to marry but Albert wasn’t ready until he was off fighting the war. They planned to marry when he returned only Albert did not come back alive.
Where were they when I needed their help! They walked away and left me to raise these children as best as I could here. This was all Pink knew. Having the money made it impossible for Pink to stay in what had been her home for more than fifty years. Pink was too afraid to move too far away. She found a little house three blocks away from Cold Street on Simmering Way.
On Sunday Pastor Brown shares with the congregation the plight of the community and the responsibility of each individual as a Christian. She challenges the congregation to find ways to improve their community and to help someone else and to stop thinking about yourself and your own problems. Selfish!! Pastor Brown calls it. Grace thinks she just does not know. But I can be the bigger person. I can let go and wish Ichabod and that twit! Oh! God forgive me-that young girl well. I wish they’d fall in one! Pink has an idea for helping the teens-but who am I? Who is going to listen to an old woman like me. People come with their hand out and not with an open ear to hear what she had to say. But none the less Pink decided to talk to Pastor Brown. Ruda was truly inspired. She wanted to do something about all of the trash in the neighborhood and the “I don’t care attitude” and the little ones standing on the street corners.This is the reason she had to come home. Ruda would talk to Pastor Brown.
After Pastor Brown spoke with Ruda and Pink, she put them in contact with one another and told them that their was a third woman that would be of great service to them by the name of Grace Sandbag.
Ruda and Pink contact Grace, reluctantly Grace agrees to help- thinking helping others might get her mind off of her troubles. The ladies hold their initial meeting at Shiloh church and devise a plan. The ladies recognize that there are many obstacles in their way. They create flyer’s to distribute to the community and advertise the next meeting in the church’s bulletin.
Finally, the night of the meeting arrived. The ladies prepared sandwiches and drinks. Grace stated that the sandwichs and drinks were too much. Let the people eat their own food at home but she is over ruled by Pink and Ruda. The church’s fellowship hall was full and the community and church members had come with many ideas and complaints. Ms. Thomas was angry over having retired and not having enough money to live on and pay her bills. Her electric bill goes up each month and sometimes its a choice between the light bill or having food to eat. Ms. Thomas doubted that the league could do anything for her. Miss Smith is twenty seven with four children and a recent college graduate. She’s been offered a good paying job and on more than one occasion but has been having trouble with finding quality and affordable childcare. She receives some government assistance with the payment but her portion is still more than she can afford with four children. Four young girls ranging from fourteen to sixteen attend, stating they live on the streets and can not go home. One of the girls is pregnant. About fifty persons state that they need to go to or would like to go to a doctor or dentist but do not have insurance, or the money to purchase an individual plan and there are sometimes long waits in the emergency rooms. Others were concerned about crime in the neighborhood and the lack of respect shown to the elders in the neighborhood, not having enough food to eat and not being able to care for themselves in their own homes as seniors. It was enough to make everybodies head spin. There was a lot of finger pointing and blaming. Of all people quiet, little Pink stood up and began to sing “We shall over come”. The whole room fell silent and then one by one they joined in to sing and began to hold each others hand and smile. Then it was Grace’s turn to step in. Grace thanked everyone for their input and admitted that nothing would be solved with this one meeting but now the league had an idea of what it was up against and what needed to be done. The ladies then listed all of the concerns and as a group they decided what could be taken care of immediately and what they would have to work towards as a community. It was suggested that Safe Haven or an organization life it be contacted so that the homeless girls could get a place to stay. A day of “Community Cleaning” was established. Adults and children would participate in picking up trash left on the sidewalks and grass and the appropriate persons or businesses would be contacted in order to remove the graffiti off of the buildings. The elders in the community offered to sit up later and on their porches with their lights on to look out for the young children playing and to babysit for those working parents until they could get childcare. The community decided to look out for one another by reporting any suspicious behaviors or suspected crimes. Everyone in Shiloh church that evening realized that these were all changes were going to require a commitment by all and that everyone had a role to play. No one was more important than the other. They were all interdependent on the other.
The first meeting has concluded.
As Grace reflected on the events of last evenings meeting, she smiled and thought Pastor Brown had been right. Becoming a part of the church ladies league had given her a sense of purpose and value and for a little while she had been able to leave her problems behind and help someone else.
Grace, Ruda and Pink realized that last evening was just the beginning for the church ladies league and that there was a lot of work to be done.