Photo special to Alachua County Today
Witnesses of Christ Ministry in downtown High Springs serves the community with food and other necessities.
HIGH SPRINGS – Children and families have found a safe haven the past three years at Witnesses of Christ Ministry, located next door to The Great Outdoors on Main Street.
The non-denominational program, headed by Pastor Sammy Nelson, Jr., is a U.S. Department of Agriculture Commodities distribution location. In addition to providing food, it also provides and seeks donations to provide furniture, appliances, clothing and other necessities to assist families in need.
After helping many people, the Ministry now has a need of its own. Its current location is being sold. Nelson and his group of mostly children will be out on the street if funding for a new location cannot be found.
Nelson has been looking for a location large enough to house the growing ministry and provide a safe place for children to do their homework, learn and play safely.
Both Nelson and his wife, Belinda, spend time tutoring children from third grade through college for free. Nelson has a doctorate in ministry and his wife has a Masters in counseling and has been a middle-school counselor.
Although Nelson has scouted out a great location next to the Civic Center, the cost to get into the building and pay the rent each month is much more than Nelson currently receives in monthly donations.
“I believe the Lord will help us find the money to move us to the new location,” said Nelson.
Some of his friends and colleagues believe the Lord could use a little help answering Nelson's prayers.
The location he has in mind was at one time a day care center and most recently the location of Born Too Late Antiques. The building has a full kitchen as opposed to the kitchenette Nelson has at his current location. It has an alarm system and people have to be buzzed in the back, which provides an additional layer of safety. The building is 2,080 sq. ft. inside with three bathrooms, a basketball court and ping-pong tables. The property encompasses the equivalent of five building lots and is entirely fenced, which Nelson appreciates for safety reasons.
“The location is perfect for us,” said Nelson. “We will be able to serve more children from that location and will have easy access for the children and families using the field across the narrow street.
“The building's current owner is willing to hold the mortgage at eight percent interest,” he said. “Down payment will cost us $20,000 and an estimate of deposits is another $2,000. Monthly payments of more than $1,300 will be required to satisfy the mortgage.”
Many of Nelson's children have performed at municipal and community events in the High Springs area over the past few years. The summer feeding program has served more than 5,500 meals for children, and Nelson and his group have provided a youth ball for Valentine’s Day, a hoedown for Father’s Day, and Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day dinners.
“We try to instill pride in young ladies and teach both young men and young ladies how to treat each other respectfully,” said Nelson. “The Valentines Day Youth Ball is one way we help to accomplish that goal. Young ladies are escorted to their seats; chairs are pulled out for them. Both young men and young ladies learn the proper etiquette and what is to be expected of each. It's a great teaching tool, and the children love learning about the proper way to treat each other.”
Anyone interested in learning more about Witnesses of Christ Ministry may stop in when they are downtown, access their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wocmhighsprings or call Nelson at 352-284-8535.
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