July 31, 2018 10:51:14 AM
The story is told of George Armstrong Custer during his service as a young Union lieutenant in the Civil War. The unit Custer was serving in came to a river and while senior officers conferred about whether a river whose depth was unknown could be safely forded, Custer simply plunged his horse into the river.
"It's this deep," he reported to his superiors. The unit quickly forded the river.
We are reminded of this story in observing a local church group in Starkville as it responded to a need it saw in their community.
For about a year now, a group of women from Starkville's First United Methodist Church has been volunteering their time doing laundry for residents at Brookville Gardens Apartments, a low-income housing development in town.
Those weekly laundry visits turned into listening sessions.
From those informal conversations, the women realized that many residents lacked access to books because they didn't have transportation to the city library.
Normally, when issues touching poverty and needs emerge, committees are formed, studies are prepared, budgets are planned, grants are applied for.
None of that happened in this case.
Like Custer, the women of FUMC just plunged in.
"We thought, 'this is something we can do,'" said Cindy Melby, one of the volunteers.
And so, what had been an empty room at the complex is now a library.
There were no committees. The library's shelves and books were donated by church members, private individuals, Mississippi State sororities and the United Way of North Central Mississippi.
Brookville Gardens now houses hundreds of books. Some fill the library's bookcases, while others sit in a back room ready to replace emptied shelves as necessary. In fact, Melby said, her group is looking to place another set of shelves in the reading room, allowing them to move more books up front.
While we realize that many needs in our community require planning, organization and development, the Brookville Gardens library reminds that there are instances where all that is needed is a listening ear and a willing spirit.
Sometimes, all that is required to meet a need is to plunge right in.
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