Thursday, August 21, 2014

Humbly I Serve opens facility

Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting Aug. 28

Beginning— CEO Melinda Wilson cuts the ribbon to celebrate the opening of a new facility. Photo credit: Angie Pacitti

Beginning— CEO Melinda Wilson cuts the ribbon to celebrate the opening of a new facility. Photo credit: Angie Pacitti

The Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon cutting Aug. 28 to celebrate the opening of a new facility for the nonprofit organization Humbly I
Serve (HIS).

The ceremony took place on Wards Road at the new building that will house the HIS office. Mike Lewis, director of sales for the Chamber, spoke during the ceremony and said that the organization will impact
the world.

HIS was founded by Melinda Wilson in 2010 and seeks to provide “educational, medical, recreational and outreach programs across the Caribbean,” HIS website stated.

“We started originally just with our His Kids program,” Wilson, CEO of HIS, said. “(D)uring that time, especially in Trinidad, I noticed that there was a lack of physical needs being met. So I got invited on a trip to Haiti. It wasn’t very specific. It was just come to Haiti (and) bring your eye care equipment, because there’s a need for that. And that’s when we branched out into providing eye care. So (we are) not only just working with children, children’s ministry and outreach, but now we’re into providing eye care and eye care education.”

Wilson said the promotion of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber provides an opportunity to network and to show the people what HIS is and how they can help the community. Brian Knopp, a member of the Chamber, said he wanted to welcome HIS to the community.
“I think it’s important as a community that we reach out to each other and come up with ideas of what we might be able to (do) to work together,” Knopp said.

The staff of HIS said it hopes to work with the community by informing the public of the current needs in Haiti and the Caribbean.

“Lynchburg can definitely help to provide education about our organization as a whole, but then specifically about eye care and the need for it, because it’s one of the really missing links in the healthcare system for children,” Joy Marinelli, COO of HIS, said.

Marinelli said they are offering the opportunity for students and churches to go on missions trips and to serve in the ministry.

“We’re right down the street from Liberty,” Marinelli said. “We’re very local, very grassroots, and people love that, so they like to come on board and be involved with a small organization. And that’s something that we have to offer that, maybe it’s harder to get on board with larger organizations and things like that and really get to know people, so we have like a little niche in that way.”

According to Haley Collins, director of business development for HIS, the ministry offers a wide variety of options for people to get involved.

“The types of roles we can offer are much different,” Collins said. “(W)e have a ton of development. Like if someone comes in and they really enjoy photography and they want to … raise funds to teach a photography class in St. Thomas, that’s something that we can offer them. So it’s very hands-on.”

Chamber member Susan Myers said that people will want to be a part of HIS and the work that they are doing throughout the community and throughout Haiti.

“People are looking for a Christian atmosphere and Christian organizations,” Myers said. “This is a perfect place for Humbly I Serve’s vision … (I hope they accomplish) awareness of the needs around the world and ways for the citizens in Lynchburg to get involved, because I think it’s important that we all look beyond our own needs and give.”

Already involved in the community, Wilson said that they are starting to plant a seed for better education.

“At Liberty this year the … special education dean has accepted a plan that we presented to … add a lot to their curriculum about eye care and educating the teachers — or the to-be teachers — other things that are not in the curriculum currently,” Wilson said.

Despite the influence they already have in the community, Wilson said their main focus is St. Thomas
and Haiti.

“This year has been a big year for us,” Wilson said. “We just … accomplished two of our goals that we’ve been working on for the past couple of years. One is to start our overnight camp in St. Thomas, so this is our first year for that … And then in Haiti specifically, we now have someone in Haiti, an American, and that’s huge for what we’re doing, and we have some more support staff headed down that way in the next month and a half … So it’s very exciting.”

Wilson said the organization is always looking for more volunteers or interns. For more information, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/humblyiserve.

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