MARTINS FERRY The Promised Land Ministry Center in Martins Ferry is finally up and running.
Many volunteer hours of been spent painting, refurbishing, cleaning up and otherwise transforming the former Church of the Nazarene on 709 S. Broadway St. in town into a compassionate ministry center.
Pastor Cheryl Lawson is the director of Promised Land.
PAstor CHERYL?Lawson from the Promised Land Ministry Center in Martins Ferry talks with Wanda Miller. The former Church of the Nazarene is now geared toward helping senior citizens of the Ohio Valley.
The center's goal is to assist senior citizens in the Ohio Valley by serving as "the hands and feet of Jesus" to the elderly of the community.
Pastor Cheryl Lawson is the center's director. For her, when the East Ohio District Church of the Nazarene asked her the best use of the facility, helping seniors was the first ministry that came to mind.
"The congregation here was elderly and couldn't financially support the church," Lawson said. "The district came in and asked me if I would, rather than close it, open a compassionate ministry center. They allowed me to decide which group to target.
"I had worked with elderly people all of my life."
Lawson noted there are multiple programs helping children, youth and families but feels that the elderly population is under served for a variety of reasons.
She's looking to change that.
Promised Land's volunteers will serve as advocates for seniors on a number of different fronts, but primarily, the focus will be on prescription drugs and health insurance.
Lawson received training from the Ohio Senior Health Information Program (OHSHIP) in order to help seniors best identify their financial and insurance needs.
"Our big emphasis will be to help seniors get free or reduced prescriptions," Lawson said. "But we'll also help seniors to understand their medical bills, fill out applications for HEAP and food stamps, anything a senior adult may need help with."
Lawson said in the case of selecting the best plan or coverage, she's not there to make the decision for the seniors. But she's going to sit down, make sure all of the options are made available and understood so that the senior can return home and make the best decision.
Now she's working with the seniors who stop in and trying to get the word out in order to help many more.
She'll be attending a health fair in St. Clairsville on May 1. Promised Land is also hosting a post-Valentine's Day luncheon Thursday. Members of the Powhatan Point Senior Center are coming up to attend. It's free for seniors who'd like to stop down and learn more about the center.
Lawson only asks that you call her ahead of time (740) 298-0101 to make a reservation.
"I want to help our seniors," Lawson said. "I believe the elderly have so much wisdom and knowledge to share and they, as a group, get overlooked."
The Guardian Angels are also meeting at the facility. That is a non-profit peer support group of seniors. They get together, have a small meal, do activities and generally help one another.
For more information on the Guardian Angels, call (740) 671-8147 or (740) 484-1231.
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