VINTON — Southeast Ohio has been ridden with poverty issues for decades and for the past several years has had to contend with being one of most affected areas of the U.S. by the national epidemic with drug use.
For people like Lisa Carroll, co-founder of God’s Hands at Work, it’s a chance to show people the love of God’s son, Jesus Christ, and to serve as a steward and representative of that love by assisting the disenfranchised.
“We serve Gallia, Jackson, Mason, Meigs and Vinton (Counties),” said Carroll. “Anyone that’s down on their luck or however you want to phrase it, we say we like to be God’s Hands to give them a helping hand to get back on their feet again. We’ve all been there at one time or another and sometimes it seems like you just can’t catch a break. That’s why we do such a wide variety of things because people have a wide variety of needs. If there is an agency that already serves that need, we refer them to that agency so we can keep our resources to meet other needs that aren’t being met. So many folks fall through the cracks and those are the ones we hope to help the most.”
God’s Hands receives referrals from roughly 40 different agencies between the five counties, Caroll said.
“We’ve changed over the years because we’ve learned what clients do and don’t need and what they come to us for,” said Carroll. “Usually people have been through some kind of tragic event when they come to us, whether it be a fire, which was what we got started with, or homelessness, victims of domestic violence, poverty in general sometimes. The drug epidemic has hit us as hard as anywhere else and grandparents or family members are getting children that have been taken out of a home in the middle of the night and they don’t get clothes or beds. They don’t have all that for them and weren’t expecting it so they can come to us and get a bed, sheets and clothes.”
Caroll said it wasn’t uncommon for the organization to help provide food boxes, clothes, hygiene items, household items, furniture, as well as prom dresses to individuals searching for such items.
“It’s a wide variety of folks coming to us,” said Carroll. “The Smith family fire that happened in Point Pleasant, that same day within 24-hours, there were three fires. When I had my store, the Treasure Cove on Jackson Pike in Spring Valley, my ministry, that was always between me, that person and God. If I heard of a fire or something like that and I could find out who the person was through the community, I would try to send word to them that I had a thrift store with clothes or dishes and whatever they might need and they could come and get it with no cost. That’s nothing to say about me. God blessed me with my store and I wanted to have an opportunity to give back.”
Caroll said she had always wanted to start a nonprofit but did not have the knowledge or money at the time to start one. Treasure Cove opened in the Spring Valley area in 2012. Roughly three years ago, Caroll stopped operating the store to focus on working with God’s Hands full-time.
“I felt this was where I was supposed to be and we got the building in Vinton and I couldn’t pass it up to be here,” said Caroll. “The store was a catalyst that God helped me use as a stepping stone to get here…We opened our doors when those fires happened because it was more than I could handle myself with the store. There were three families, one had nine members and several wore the same size of clothes and I just didn’t have enough. I posted on a Facebook page that we were taking donations and we had a big back storage room and would get donations to the families.”
Caroll said for two weeks they took donations and sorted them out.
“People said God was really moving and the community was behind it and they stood in line for hours to donate,” said Caroll. “We felt maybe it was then the time so we researched how to become a 501(c)(3) (nonprofit organization) and there were three of us, Sandy Thompson and Diane Garber-Cardwell and myself. We all got together and researched.”
God’s Hands at Work would eventually base itself out of a service center, the old Fellowship Chapel, in Vinton at 68 Keystone Road and held its grand opening in January 2016. Meetings for God’s Hands were first held in April 2014. The organization operates solely on donations. The organization can be contacted at its Facebook page: God’s Hands at Work or called at 740-645-7609. The service center is open from noon to four Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Carroll said that volunteers are always welcome to the organization and needed.
Caroll has been married to her husband Butch for 25 years an shares four children with him and 11 grandchildren, with a twelfth on the way.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.
(Editor’s note: This story was slated to appear in Ohio Valley Publishing’s recent Community Pride and Progress Edition which was published on Friday but was accidentally omitted from the edition. Ohio Valley Publishing apologizes for this oversight and thanks Lisa Carroll for giving of her time to speak with us about her organization which serves the local area. We hope our readers will appreciate why she and her organization were chosen to be a part of our “Good News Edition” as we share her story here.)