With thousands of paid time hours available to our Activus Connect Ambassadors for volunteerism, we celebrate the real difference they are making within their local communities. From a dedicated family of Ministers, Zionde Harper (ZH) grew up serving and helping others. During her Day of Giving, she volunteered at her family’s ministry.
AC: For your Day of Giving, what did you do?
ZH: I volunteered with Shekinah Glory Family Care Ministries in the Food Pantry. I assisted in the pick-up of the donated goods from Publix (we also collect from Walmart). We go to each department to collect whatever items they have for us. Once we’ve gathered all donations, we take them back to our church, set up the items outside for safety reasons, and promote social distancing. We provide a safe and trusted place for those in need within our community to come and get boxes of food for free.
AC: Can you tell us a bit about the organization?
ZH: Shekinah Glory Family Care Ministries is my home church. My grandmother and grandfather started the ministry back in 2005. The church is all about community outreach. We also have a prison ministry where we bring church services to the inmates. One of my favorite parts of our ministry is the various community events that we provide. We host summer feeding programs for children, drumline camps, and a back-to-school bash that provides over 100 kids with bookbags and school supplies. We also work closely with the local Sheriff, Mr. Leon Lott, and his department to host forums to keep the surrounding communities informed of available services. The ministry also has the vision to add a daycare center, daytime senior center, and re-entry homes for the newly released prisoners we’ve engaged with to get them re-established in the community.
AC: That’s remarkable, Zionde. Do you know what motivated your grandparents to start the ministry?
ZH: My grandparents have always been involved in ministry. They were both raised in the church and, in turn, raised their children in a similar manner. My grandmother was a Sunday school teacher, and my grandfather was a deacon. My grandmother’s father was a pastor for over 60 years, and out of the seven siblings she has, four of them are also ministers. My grandmother felt that her calling was to bring souls to Christ. She wanted to establish a ministry built by her family. My grandfather was in full support. My mom and I and my uncles and their families all moved back to South Carolina from Georgia to help establish the foundation of the church and have been going strong ever since. My family is still very involved to this day, and as of this year, our membership is up to 65!
AC: Was this the first time this event was held?
ZH: No, we’ve been doing this for three years now. We do pick-ups three times a week, and for those that aren’t in a position to come to the church, we arrange to have a box delivered to them.
AC: What motivated you to participate and give back to your community?
ZH: I’ve participated in this program since the start, but my motivation is different now. I started with this program to be of some assistance until it became fully established. I do it primarily to show my son that we should be grateful for the things we have because the people we encounter are genuinely in need. I want to teach him that he should always be willing to lend a helping hand instead of dismissing people or turning a blind eye.
AC: Truly admirable to see you engage your son with giving back to his community. How many families are you impacting weekly with the food box ministry?
ZH: It depends on the day. Mondays we may see about 20-30 people/families and Fridays and Saturdays it could be anywhere from 30-50.
AC: That’s a pretty big turnout! Have you ever run out of boxes of food while giving them out?
ZH: We have never run out. We stock a little bit from each donation in our pantry and freezers. So, if we ever have a “light” donation day, we can add from our stock to make sure there is enough for everyone who needs it.
AC: That’s amazing. You’re all well prepared. What would you say to encourage others to participate?
ZH: I would tell people that now more than ever, there is a need for people to give back to their local community. The pandemic has turned people’s lives upside down, and they need assistance. So every little bit helps, and anything will always be appreciated!
AC: Lastly, is there anything you’d like to tell our readers before we go?
ZH: Yes. I would say that I know we all have busy lives, but if we can find time to do things we love, we can also find time to be a blessing to someone in need!