by Ted Rodarm, Executive Director
Matthew 25 Ministries relocated its housing operation to Pahokee in January 2009 and we are celebrating 10 years at Pelican Lake! Initially, eight residents arrived from Okeechobee and immediately went to work.
By the time I arrived later that year, much of the hardest work was already done, however, I have seen pictures and heard stories from Maggie and others who were here from day 1. There was so much trash and debris – furniture, mattresses and tires – and overgrown vegetation that one street was completely impassable. While the larger items had already been removed, I hauled my share of shopping carts and car batteries out of a canal. For months, I was still finding discarded diapers.
The church was uninhabitable at first. It was filthy from disuse and the rafters were filled with thousands of bees. The pews fell apart when they were moved and the dingy carpet with big red flowers was hideous. It took a lot of labor to hold our first church service with 10 in attendance – including Dick and Maggie – sitting on metal folding chairs. Maggie, of course, led praise and worship with her tambourine.
Many of the apartments had been vacant for some time and were inhabited by insects and rodents. One by one, the apartments were cleaned, painted, furnished and readied for occupancy.
Over the years, we have continued to make improvements and upgrades and today have 125 residents who may not otherwise have housing. We realize the comforts we enjoy today are possible through the labor of the Witherows and others that came before us and we are thankful. Their labor would not have been possible without your continued support and we are grateful.
As Maggie told me as she was recalling the early days, “We’ve come a long way, baby!”