Congregation launches ‘Seeds of Hope’
The “pay-it-forward” concept is not particularly new. In fact, the humanitarian initiative was the subject of 2000 film that starred Kevin Spacey. Recently, Central Baptist Church, led by its pastor, Rev. Kathryn Palen, has created its own version of a pay-it-forward program. They’re calling it “Seeds of Hope.”
The “Seeds of Hope” program began on Ash Wednesday and will continue for three months. Members of the Central Baptist congregation are offered $50 each, with the proviso that the money is to be used for the purpose of givinghope to another person. The money was made available through the church’s mission fund and can be used individually or by members pooling their funds to make a bigger impact.
“Six of our folks gathered their money together to help with the eighth-grade Lawn Avenue School trip to Washington, D.C.,” Palen said. “We have others who are trying to raise additional funds from friends and that will go to families in need in Jamestown.” A donation is also being made to help a resident at Pemberton Apartments with money to plant vegetables, which will then be shared with other residents of the complex.
Palen said that it is in many ways about helping members of the congregation identify places, both locally and globally, that are in need of hope. “Sometimes the challenges today seem really overwhelming,” she said. “This is a reminder that each of us has the ability to do small things that offer hope in ways that sometimes exceed our imagination. Hope is a central part of our faith.”
While the Lenten season will end this week, Palen says that there is still plenty of time for members of her congregation to participate in the program. So far 22 congregants have taken part in the program.
Four Jamestown residents – Marilyn Dennis, Deb Nordstrom, and Jill and Dave Dolce – have combined their funds to host a benefit dinner for a 7-year-old boy with brain cancer. The group learned of Cole Grace’s illness through his grandparents, who live on the same street in Jamestown as three of the donors. Cole also has great-grandparents living in town.
The benefit dinner for Cole will take place at Central Baptist Church on Saturday, April 14, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for a meal that includes a lobster roll, chips, dessert and a beverage. The dinner can be eaten at the church or prepared for take-out. Tickets are available at Central Baptist Church, Baker’s Pharmacy and the Jamestown Tavern.
“When we heard about the ‘Seeds of Hope’ program that the church was planning, we approached Rev. Palen to see if we could use our donations from ‘Seeds of Hope’ to begin this project to help Cole’s family,” Dennis said.
Dennis added that the group hopes to sell as many as 250 tickets to the event. “We hope for a lot of participation because it will help the family if people come.”
Young Cole Grace has had a diffi cult time since being diagnosed with cancer in late January. Since that time he has spent five weeks in Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence, enduring three surgeries while he was there. He has now returned home, but he is still receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatments to help him in his fight against the particularly aggressive strain of cancer.
Cole’s grandmother, Mary Lovegreen, is a Jamestown resident who works as a nurse at Newport Hospital. According to Lovegreen, Cole has a grade-IV brain tumor known as a glioma. She says that the family has been overwhelmed by the support that they are getting. In addition to the Jamestown benefit dinner, several other fundraisers are planned.
“There has been a lot of community support from different families, restaurants, friends and businesses,” Lovegreen said. “It’s very nice that three of the organizers are friends and neighbors of my husband Steve and I. We’re pleased and happy that it’s local and that they’re supporting our family in all different ways. The money will be used to help the family spend more time with Cole because the parents aren’t able to work right now.”
Lovegreen said that Cole recently had a chance to spend 45 minutes on a one-to-one Skype call with his idol, rock singer and “American Idol” judge Steven Tyler. “One of his wishes was to sing ‘Walk This Way’ with Steven Tyler,” Lovegreen said.
Later Cole got a shout-out from Tyler on “American Idol.” Cole has also been given a ride in a police car by the West Warwick Police Department and paid a visit to Toys R Us, and a WWE wrestler visited the youngster while he was in the hospital.
“He’s very cute,” Lovegreen says. “He thinks he’s famous and that he’s a little celebrity. He’s happy right now with all the attention that he’s getting. He’s enjoying it.”