A Captivated Heart

For the People, by the People

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” This quote by Albert Schweiter, philosopher, physician, and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, holds great truth for all people.

“By the People for the People” blog has relayed to its readers what service opportunities are available in the Polk County region of Florida. Including various organizations such as the Dream Center, Lighthouse Ministries, and Parker Street Ministries, which strive to provide services that better their local community.

“Lakeland reminds me of a town that’s a tale of two cities. You have the enjoyment of Lakeside village and the swans on the lake. But you have another side of town where you see dilapidated houses and hopelessness. This is the Lakeland that God has called…

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The Church That Never Sleeps

Most people have a similar conception of what Church is. Contrary to common belief a church is not a white building with a steeple. A Church is a place where a community of people come together and worship Jesus Christ. Watch this Video to learn about the 24/7 Church in LA. The Dream Center’s all across America are reestablishing what Church really is.

The Word Became Flesh

Parker Street Sign

“The word became flesh and moved into our neighborhood.” These words are what drive Parker Street Ministries (PSM). Community service feels good. A person or group can take a few hours every couple of weeks to give back and feel helpful. However, for the people of Parker Street Ministries, service has become a lifestyle.

Unlike most non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations, the staff of PSM embraces a holistic approach by living in the community they serve. At first glance, this may not appear to be relevant, however, now consider that the Parker Street Neighborhood received 9,582 calls for assistance to the police in 2011. The PSM staff is not simply helping a neighborhood they have joined the community.

PSM Staff

Staff members and their families live in the community and are, therefore, part of their neighbor’s everyday lives. This creates a unique opportunity for the staff to speak directly about problems in the lives of fellow residents. A bond is formed through personal relationships, direct observation and common, often painful, experiences.

“Parker Street Ministries is committed to individual, family and community restoration, reconciliation and revitalization in Lakeland’s Parker Street community,” said Executive Director of PSM, Tim Mitchell.

Kids in the Community

Due to the fact that the PSM staff lives in the community that they serve, they have earned the respect and appreciation of the fellow residents. PSM offers a wide array of programs to benefit the community including academic enrichment, a Christmas store, and neighborhood revitalization. The goal of PSM is to meet the physical needs of the community in order to meet their spiritual needs. PSM is a Christian organization with the hope that all people will accept Jesus Christ as their Lord. However, a person does not need to share the same beliefs in order to receive assistance.

“In a place where police sirens and angry shouts are common, there is a new, loud voice that says, ‘you’re loved, you’re cared for, and we’re here.’” Those words, from neighborhood resident and Executive Director Mitchell display the compassion and mission of PSM.

A primary objective of PSM is to give renters the opportunity and ability to become homeowners. Homeowners are less transient and more financially stable. Allowing residents to have this opportunity is carried out in various ways by PSM.

Renovation Volunteers

Thomas Gaige, a full time employee of PSM, and neighborhood resident said, “One of the most exciting news items is that we now have the opportunity to renovate three homes we acquired in July as part of our neighborhood stabilization initiative. Once beautiful, they now need major rehabilitation.”

PSM works alongside Habitat for Humanity, the City of Lakeland, and other organizations to get local residents into a secure stable financial situation. PSM purchases abandoned and rundown homes in order to renovate them. After renovations, PSM can either sell the homes for a very reasonable price or rent it. This strategy stabilizes residents thereby reducing the high turnover rate in the community.

Local Volunteers

Larry, a resident of Parker Street, has gone to prison multiple times. He has experienced the difficulties and challenges of living as a forgotten son in a forgotten community. After many years of contact and communication with PSM, he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord of his life.

When asked what has changed in his life since becoming a Christian Larry said, “The building of a foundation through Christ really opens your eyes to who God is calling you to be. A man is someone who loves his family, someone who loves his kids, someone who loves his neighbors.”

Although the PSM staff lives in the neighborhood, they are always happy to have new people join their community. In 2011, over 800 volunteers contributed to the Parker Street community. If you are interested in getting involved with Parker Street Ministries click the links below:

PSM General Information

Execute Director Tim Mitchel

Volunteer Director