Agape Ministries helps A Place for Hope reopen Blackmon Road wash house

adouglas@heraldonline.comJune 29, 2013 

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    Donations to support the wash house on Blackmon Road may be mailed to A Place For Hope, P.O. Box 11232, Rock Hill, S.C. 29731.

    Agape International Ministries requests that supporters write “wash house only” in the memo line of checks.

    For information about A Place For Hope and its mission, visit www.aplaceforhope.net or call 803-329-HOPE (4673).

Hot dogs sizzled, prayers were offered and a laundry and bath facility for Rock Hill’s Blackmon Road community re-opened with a celebration Saturday morning.

The washhouse – closed for months because of A Place For Hope’s financial strain – provides clean water and toilets for one of the city’s most underserved streets.

Partnering with A Place For Hope to help, Agape International Ministries and the church’s non-profit arm Dominion Community Development Corporation, reopened the wash house this weekend as a way to uplift Blackmon Road residents, church leaders said.

York County Councilman Bump Roddey, an advocate for A Place For Hope and Blackmon Road, attended the ceremony and said he hopes one day the need for a wash house will disappear.

The facility has helped the residents help themselves, he said, and Agape’s commitment to keep it open is a great example for other churches.

“This is what churches are supposed to do in a community,” Roddey said.

The councilman read a story in The Herald, he said, about the wash house closing a few months ago.

The next morning, he woke up to a text message from the Rev. Maurice Revell, pastor at Agape International Ministries.

The text said, “Whatever you need, I’m in,” Roddey said.

Revell said his congregation is willing to take the lead, but needs support from others in York County to ensure the wash house can operate for Blackmon Road residents.

A Place For Hope, the non-profit organization that started in the community about 13 years ago, has changed its mission to focus on helping at-risk children in the Rock Hill area through afterschool programs and summer camp.

As the non-profit center serves local children, Agape and, hopefully, others will share the responsibility of running the wash house, Roddey said.

“We’re going to keep loving the people in this community and keep praying for people in this community,” he said.

Donna Berry, A Place For Hope’s founder, said she’s glad to see the wash house and the center remain a “God-thing.”

Agape’s leadership is a blessing, she said, and is another reminder that God provides a way when there’s a need.

The wash house opened in 2010 with help from private donors, York County government and the city of Rock Hill.

Most residents on Blackmon Road- – a street just outside Rock Hill city limits – do not have running water or sewage service in their homes.

The wash house closed when A Place For Hope faced financial problems earlier this year after five-year donation pledges set up to coincide with the wash house’s opening expired.

The center’s programs for children were also temporarily suspended.

A Place For Hope’s leaders say they have raised enough funds to run their regular summer camp for children.

In addition to money to pay the wash house’s utility bills, some help will be needed to fix a plumbing problem which causes some flooding in the yard beside the facility, said Deborah Tulay, outreach coordinator at Agape.

In a prayer, Revell said he hopes God uses the wash house to help the Blackmon Road community “live more abundantly.”

Before opening the wash house, church members walked through the neighborhood and met with residents to tell them the facility is open again.

Some people in York County have forgotten the struggles of Blackmon Road, Revell said, because politicians and civic leaders haven’t visited the street in some time.

But, looking out for your neighbor, he said, isn’t solely up to government or business leaders.

Helping others collaboratively is essential, Revell said, and he hopes other churches will join Agape to keep the wash house open.

“When every person does just a little bit, that’s when we can get a lot done.”

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Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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