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Community responds to church’s outreach program
Valerie Griffith with Mak Beauty Institute gives a manicure to Donna Conner during North Lanier Baptist Church’s 3 Days of Hope event, which was held Thursday through Saturday. - photo by Crystal Ledford

CUMMING — Leaders of a Cumming church were calling a new community outreach program a great success only halfway through the event.

By Friday, the second day of North Lanier Baptist’s 3 Day of Hope event, more than 200 people had come through the doors to receive free assistance such as medical and vision screenings, haircuts, manicures and automobile care.

The event was completely volunteer-run with several businesses in the community — including Herbert Automotive, Northside Hospital-Forsyth, Mak Beauty Institute, Mary Kay Cosmetics and the Forsyth County Lions Club — providing free services.

Lynne Byers, one of the organizers, said the event had exceeded the vision of church members during the planning stages.

“[On Thursday], we had 111 guests come in in just the first day,” she said. “We had 44 vouchers [or car care] that went out to Herbert Automotive … and we’re expecting a lot more people [Saturday] since everyone will be off work.”

Lydia Kossman, one of the volunteers, said North Lanier’s Hispanic ministry reached out to many of Forsyth’s Spanish-speaking residents.

“We went out on the bus to several Hispanic communities and knocked on doors and told them about the event and to come join us,” she said. “A lot of them have come in, so that’s been nice to see.”

While the church geared a large percentage of its communications about the event to single-parent families and the elderly, Byers said, it was open to anyone.

“The reason we’re doing this is really two-fold,” she said. “We want to help the community and help people who are truly in need, but then the other thing is that we want to show people what the love of Christ looks like.

“We don’t care who you are, you’re welcome here.”

All were welcomed to the event by an army of volunteers, who directed traffic, helped visitors fill out registration forms and directed them to the respective service areas.

Jeff Haslinger came out to take advantage of Lions Club vision screenings and Herbert Automotive car maintenance.

He said he had an injury to his arm which in recent months had left him unable to take care of his automobile as he would like.

“This is great thing for the whole community,” he said. “I’m really thankful they had this.”

Byers said the first-time event was so well-received that church leaders are planning to hold a second large-scale event probably next year, as well as possibly some shorter events before then.

She said she had been especially pleased with the response from other churches and nonprofits throughout the county.

“We’ve had other organizations and other smaller churches that can’t really put something like this on say, ‘Hey, how can we partner with you in the future,’” she said.

“Because God’s in it, we’re thinking wouldn’t it be great if sometime in the future we saw 3 Days of Hope all across Forsyth County where everybody opened their doors.”