By Kevin Cassady
RICHMOND, KY: The news couldn’t have been better for Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Richmond, Kentucky. Through Janie Jordan, a coordinator of the church’s work with MadisonHome, a non-profit serving the homeless community, she found out about Passport Camps and their interest in helping with the church’s Garden for the Hungry as one of their service projects. Jordan had been connected by a volunteer to an event coordinator at Berea College, who informed them about Passport Camps doing service projects in the area during the summer. Through that connection at Berea College, Jordan was able to get in touch with Dale Tadlock, Coordinator of Youth Programs for Passport Camps. Jordan says that Tadlock came to Richmond and met with her in April, and was so impressed with the Garden for the Hungry that he decided it was the perfect kind of service project for the students who were going to be in the area.
Passport, Inc. is a national program that provides summer camps for teens. The Rev. Carol Ruthven, Rector of Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, said: “They asked us how they can help and said they would bring all the tools and equipment to carry out the work. They are fully insured and all the staff have training for the protection/safeguarding of children.”
The Garden for the Hungry has been in operation as a ministry of Episcopal Church of Our Saviour since 2016. Donations of food from the garden help to support several food banks in Richmond and Berea that serve the homeless and hungry. In 2021 alone, the Garden for the Hungry delivered 3,606 pounds of fresh vegetables to local food banks 1.
Janie Jordan spoke of the evolution of MadisonHome. It became an extension of Room in the Inn, which is a national ministry started in Nashville, Tennessee in 1985. Churches participating in Room in the Inn house and feed members of the homeless community during the cold winter months. When the COVID pandemic hit in 2020, churches had to shut their doors. She said new ways were found to help to feed the homeless community. Lunches and produce from the garden started getting delivered, as well, and that continues. Jordan is quick to credit all the people in the area who are responsible for getting MadisonHome up and running as a non-profit over recent years, providing all kinds of community services. She feels she’s just one of many in the community doing work that is part of the Gospels of Jesus Christ by helping to take care of those in need.
On Sunday, July 3, leaders and students from Passport Camps were welcomed to the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour for morning worship. The Rev. Ruthven used the Garden for the Hungry as a central theme in her sermon. Referring to the Passport Camps student volunteers, she said, “As the garden has grown in size, and the planting and harvesting has extended to 10 months of the year, the labor required has also grown and our faithful members of the Garden Committee are not getting any younger. We have been praying for several years for more volunteers to work in our garden and help distribute the food. Now our prayers have been answered in a most magnificent way.
“The students begin each day with morning devotions and Bible study. After lunch, they volunteer for community service projects. Then they have free time in the afternoon followed by dinner, evening worship and discussion about their work that day. One of the students in the Passport Camp explained: ‘In the morning, we study the Bible. In the afternoon, we do it!’ I cannot think of anything wiser and more inspiring for all of us.”
Student volunteers went to work at the Garden for the Hungry July 12-15, with 50 students the first two days and 25 students the next two days. According to Leslie Farris, Junior Warden for The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour, they also helped with renovation and cleaning work on the Parish Mission House, for which she was thrilled.
Referring to the group from Passport Camps, Farris said, “They’re wonderful kids. They were leaving one day and I was taken by how many of them stopped and thanked me for letting them work here. That was a powerful statement. We’re so thankful and they’re so thankful. They’ll take those experiences home and maybe plant seeds wherever they go.”
About the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour’s Garden for the Hungry: The mission of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour includes a commitment “to respond to human need by loving service” and “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth”.
The “Garden for the Hungry” is part of our effort to carry out our mission. Since its inception in 2016, we have produced over 30,000 pounds of vegetables, grown using natural methods and no dangerous chemical fertilizers or pesticides, donated to food banks in Richmond and Berea.1
About Passport Camps: Passport, Inc. is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry whose primary goal is to work for integrated, ecumenical, and inspirational weeks of summer camp that model important lessons like service in the name of Christ, creation care, and respect for our neighbors. Passport’s National Team is responsible for developing camp themes and content, hiring and training exceptional summer staff, partnering with our network of churches to invite them to join us, and executing the overall camp experience. In addition to camps, Passport also produces a devotional website and app, d365.org, that offers a free devotional geared toward youth and young adults each day of the year.
Passport is committed to providing an ecumenical, interdenominational camp experience. We believe there is something unique and holy when groups from different denominational backgrounds come together for worship and community. Passport affirms the call of God on men and women equally. Our partners include the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Episcopal Church, and the United Methodist Church.2
About MadisonHome: Homelessness is an endemic problem and can result from poverty, catastrophic medical illnesses, long waiting lists for affordable housing or release from incarceration or medical facilities, etc. This has become a more acute problem during the recent inflation, pandemic, and societal pressures including the drug epidemic.
MadisonHome is a centralized and unified platform for the cooperation between churches in Richmond and Waco in addition to other religious, civic, and community organizations, to help the homeless with multiple related vulnerabilities, and the general community to prevent future homelessness. These organizations furnish services in the 105 Fifth Street location in Richmond, KY.
It is a community-wide effort for fundraising, soliciting grants, accepting donations, and management of day-to-day activities, as listed on the online daily calendar on the main webpage.
Volunteers of MadisonHome arrange short-term and long-term housing, assist in seeking employment, and distribute food and clothing.
MadisonHome, Inc. has been registered with the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a non-profit organization to spearhead and coordinate this effort. It has been approved by IRS as a tax-exempt public charity.3
1 Episcopal Church of Our Saviour – Garden for the Hungry Report 2021
2 Passport, Inc. – https://passportcamps.org/about/
3 MadisonHome https://www.madisonhome.org/who-we-are