Gifts, helping hands link church to village


July 29, 1999|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For the past 10 years, Cheryl Hancock of Severna Park has been a volunteer with Compassion International, a children's support organization in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Financed by monthly donations from U.S. citizens, Compassion International pays the living expenses of needy children around the world.

Hancock also is a member of Volunteers in Mission, an outreach program at Severna Park United Methodist Church.

Through her work with CI, Hancock and her husband, Woody, learned about the people of La Montana, a village near Barahona in the Dominican Republic.

"La Montana is such a tiny village," Cheryl Hancock said. "The buildings are all thatched-roofed huts; the people are impoverished."

Because of her efforts, many village children are now sponsored by the Hancocks' fellow members of the Severna Park church.

A sponsored child in La Montana receives a daily hot meal, clothes and school supplies.

Several years ago, on a mission to La Montana, Volunteers in Mission members built a cinder-block church. Last fall, when Hurricane Georges hit, all 300 villagers survived the killer storm inside the church. Everything else was destroyed, including the building that housed the Compassion International school.

When 24 members of VIM traveled to La Montana in June, their first job was to lay the foundation for a new school.

The hurricane destroyed the villagers' only nearby source of drinking water; they were forced to walk a mile down the mountain to wait in line for water flowing from a pipe.

"Even small children carried any container they could find filled with water back up the hill," said Hancock.

So, volunteers began work on a cistern. Then, they dug a ditch through dense rock, the first step in building a new septic system, and cleared space for a chapel in a nearby Haitian migrant village.

But all was not hard physical labor. Part of the mission was to distribute gift bags filled with "luxuries" like books, crayons, T-shirts and candy.

One has to be at least a senior in high school to join Volunteers in Mission. The Hancocks' two college-age daughters, Lauren and Erin, are veteran volunteers.

To contact Compassion International, call 719-594-9900; to contact Severna Park United Methodist Church, call 410-987-4700.

Items missing

Some items were misplaced during the Greater Severna Park Chamber of Commerce 4th of July Parade and Festival on July 5.

Missing are a pair of wooden sawhorses, a cooler, and a card table and chair.

If found, please call 410-647-3900.

Pub Date: 7/29/99

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