For the volunteers committed to Freedom Missions, the acronym SEED means sow, educate, empower and deploy.
That’s the plan as the program, under Meals on Wheels of Horry County, [MOW] goes into two Socastee and one Myrtle Beach neighborhood bringing cookouts, Bible studies, clothes, toys, and most of all, hope for better tomorrows.
For about two years before taking on Meals on Wheels as the executive director, Michael Tyler was going into these neighborhoods through another nonprofit, The Hunger Crusaders.
“Corona shutting down the schools gave us the opportunity to bring this under Meals on Wheels,” he said.
Explaining that MOW is primarily a program for senior citizens who cannot shop for and/or prepare their own meals, Tyler said the Freedom Mission efforts can now include youth and lower-income areas.
The right way to fill out a resume and having a tutor help with schoolwork are important, and young people in those communities now have those resources available to them.
Just learning how to change a flat tire can be lifechanging, said Angie Moncrief, a nurse who left full-time health care to take the job of operations director at MOW and volunteer with Freedom Missions.
“Teaching them to cook, finding their talents and breaking the cycles they’re living in…” she added, about what Freedom Missions brings to the areas it visits.
But learning to live without using drugs, growing into responsible adults and especially coming into a relationship with God are Freedom Mission’s priorities.
The ministry is bringing those resources to these communities – Strand Village and Plantation in Socastee and Racepath in Myrtle Beach – to educate and empower them so they can have successful, productive lives.
“Ultimately, we want to show them love, we want to show them Jesus,” Tyler said.
Tyler stressed that all contributions to MOW go to MOW, and only contributions made directly to Freedom Missions or those unable to be used in MOW go to that ministry.
Donated food too high in sodium to be beneficial to the elderly MOW clients would be used in Freedom Missions. Donations of small cans that aren’t convenient to cook with for the MOW clients is another example of things that are used in the neighborhoods.
Both Meals on Wheels and Freedom Missions are privately funded because, according to the website, “This is God’s ministry and as such, He provides the funding we need through private donations, business contributions, and other non-profit fundraisers.”
Food, bottled water, money, and even a freezer are things people can donate, and prayers to help MOW find a larger home base are needed.
Donations to MOW or Freedom Missions can be made through the website, www.mowhc.org or at the ministry’s kitchen at 4006 Postal Way, Unit 6.
During COVID-19, Meals on Wheels has gone from serving 100 meals a day five days a week to preparing 1,000 to 1,200 meals a day six days a week.
And even with that schedule, Freedom Missions has a cook-out every third Saturday of every month in all of its target communities.
Along with the food, they bring basketballs and baby clothes and they feed about 100-120 people – and not always the same ones from month to month - at each cook-out.
Instead of just delivering food, hosting the cookouts allows Freedom Mission to interact with the residents, and allows the residents to interact with each other.
“These communities are hot spots for crime and drugs and all those aspects of life,” Tyler said.
“That trickles out of those neighborhoods into surrounding neighborhoods so we’re there to help change the culture.”
Like the recovering alcoholic woman who watched her boyfriend kill himself and who stopped drinking because of it.
Or the young girls once strung out on drugs who no longer are.
And the people who now ask for prayer because they’ve seen other people get real answers.
“We deliver God’s love one meal at a time, and that’s a seed we’re planting with someone,” she said. “Everything we do is planting a seed in someone’s life and then someone waters it and eventually, those seeds grow.
“When that change happens in individuals and in the community, that will deploy them to change other people.
“Our hope is they’ll take others under their wings and show them how to make a difference too.”
Tyler said some folks think that going into these neighborhoods and helping the residents will only contribute to their existing lifestyle.
“Trust is the foundation for growth and we’re building that trust,” he said. “We’re meeting people where they are, bringing resources to them, and we’ve seen change.”