Serving a City: Community Partners Faith with Action

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CHESAPEAKE, Va. -- The police department and churches are working side by side in Chesapeake, Va., to transform depressed communities, as part of a program known as "Serve the City."

Since the program began, crime has dropped and hearts are being changed.

Yolande Chapman, 35, is standing in her kitchen surrounded by new cabinets, thanks to volunteers with the Serve the City.

"This is clean!" exclaimed Dante, Chapman's young son.

A cabinet makeover is not all the group has done free of charge for the single mother of four who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

"I had a major hole in the ceiling," Chapman said. The hole had been there for several months from unrepaired water leaks in the house.

"It was like this big," her son chimed in. 

In its place is a beautiful new textured ceiling. Chapman, who has lived in the community all her life, said Serve the City volunteers have not only transformed her once-barely inhabitable house, their constant giving has changed her life.

"I am very, very honored and very, very grateful for Serve the City," she told CBN News.

IN PICTURES: Serve the City

Building Up Hearts
    
But Chapman is not the only one getting a much-needed helping hand. In Chesapeake, nearly 20 churches are volunteering in more than a dozen neighborhoods, giving them a face-lift and fixing what's broken.
    
Homeowner Diane Smith is getting a new roof.

"For these people to do this for me, it's just -- I don't have words. I'm speechless," Smith said. "And again to God be all the glory because this is Him. He has given me favor."

Mary Olds, who has lived in the Harbour North area since 1972, has seen her neighborhood go through its slide downhill.

Now, as the president of the Harbour North Civic league, she said Serve the City has helped bring hope back to the people.

"What a wonderful God we have that would supply us with people that are concerned to come out and work on our homes," Olds told CBN News.

Building a Presence

Coordinators of Serve the City say their vision is to build partnerships between the police department and faith-based organizations and civic organizations.

They do that not only by rebuilding and repairing homes, but also through building relationships.

"(We) bring them all together, share resources, share ideas and really bring the whole demeanor of the community up," said Durant Kreider, pastor of Coastlands Community Church.

The group has also helped bring the crime rate down. Chesapeake Chief of Police K.L. Wright said since Serve the City began, violent crime has taken a nose dive.

"I think overall it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 to 80 percent decrease in violent crime," Wright said.

With crime down and lives changing, volunteers who have been doing this for years say Serve the City is a vivid example of what can happen when faith partners with action.

Watch more below:

Yolande Chapman, Harbour North resident
"Anything can happen, anything is possible" when the love of Jesus shows up on the scene.


Mary Olds, Harbour North Civic League President
"I pray that some of these people see the Christ in the ones doing the work. They are not getting paid. But Christ is doing things. He will repay everyone for the good deeds that they are doing."


Pastor Durant Kreider, Coastlands Community Church

Pastor Kreider gives testimony on how the work has given opportunity for sharing the Gospel, without necessarily "recruiting" people to simply go to church.


Chesapeake Chief of Police K.L. Wright
Chief Wright explains how the young Serve the City volunteers have inspired the youth in the neighborhoods to care.

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Mark Martin

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.