Old Calhoun Meat Company Building; New Home to Blessed Abundantly Ministries
GRAND SALINE—Amy Thomas knows what it’s like to face hardship in life. And now her life’s calling is to help others facing the struggles of poverty in the Grand Saline are.
Bless Abundantly Ministries is the name of Thomas’ new venture. She describes it as “a place for God to use people to bless others”. It is a clothes closet, food pantry and educational center for the community.
Thomas has been married to her husband Brad for fifteen years and the couple has nine children between them. Thomas’ family has lived in Grand Saline for three years in July, previously a resident of Dallas. A year ago Amy began to feel a calling to serve Grand Saline, and Blessed Abundantly Ministries is a result of that calling.
Thomas says she knows how it feels to live a life in need. At one point in her life she was a single mother of three struggling to clothe and feed her children after escaping an unhealthy marriage. “I was a single mother of three kids. Times are not easy for single parents,” Amy recalls, “I was in a very abusive relationship and God delivered me from it. But that did mean I was single and trying to fund all the needs for myself and my three kids.”
She says that clothes were a necessity, but not always something that money could be spent on as she juggled the household finances and food was an ultimate priority.
“I can remember vividly at one point going through the house looking for any bit of change I could and rolling up a roll of pennies to be able to get gas to take my kids to school so that they would definitely get the free breakfast and lunch.“ Amy shared.
Later in life Amy and Brad also witnessed a natural disaster that uprooted lives. They witnessed firsthand the tragedy when their home was hit by a tornado that struck Garland and Rowlette on December 26, 2015. They were home as the “scary events” unfolded, witnessing the devastation that was left behind. “Afterwards was worse seeing what people had to go through to get items needed. We had been volunteering at a local food pantry and clothing closet prior to the tornado. We contacted them and helped organize a box truck loaded down with food, heaters, clothing, pillows, coats, diapers. All the things that people really needed and we rode around in the back of it going door to door handing out needed supplies.“ Amy said.
Amy began to feel the need to put her heart of serving others to use a year ago as she felt the calling to help those in need in Grand Saline and the result of that calling is so much more than just a clothing closet. “Over one year ago I started feeling the need for a clothing ministry in Grand Saline. I have seen and been in circumstances in my life where I was in need of help with clothing to wear and food on the table.”, She states, “I think God has led me through these situations to get ready for this work of His.”
She continued, “God has blessed my life abundantly over the years. Even in the times when I was rolling pennies to get gas. I thank God for the pennies. Because he has given us so much, I feel the need to bless others.” Blessed Abundantly Ministries is a multi faceted outreach to help those in need. It offers clothing, food and an education center to not only clothe and feed, but a way to better ones life to help brighten their future with opportunities.
Thomas said it is a way for others to help others. The high school equivalency diploma classes, taught by Delana Wheeler, will help open doors to employers. Also available will be First Aid and CPR classes taught by Amy’s daughter Britany.
The ministry is a 501.3c non profit and is led by a board on which Amy is the president. The board is made up of Jimmy Miles, Delana Wheeler, Amy Thomas and Cody Herring.
Thomas says, “I know that the only way this ministry will work is under the leadership and guidance of our Heavenly Father. It is my wish to only do His will. So that is why I am asking others to help become the decision makers. We have a board in place so the members can help me keep accountable to God. This is his baby not mine. I just want to babysit it and give it the best care I can.”
The old Calhoun Meat Market building that the Ministry is located in was refurbished to serve the needs of the needy in the community Thomas says. Some of the original parts of the building were salvaged such as the doors, a packing table, a huge table used to make shelves that are now in the food pantry area. There is a fresh coat of paint and some upgrades done to the inside of the building. The Welcome center is when you first enter and you will get an application or sign in. Blessed Abundantly Ministries has a room full of assorted clothes from infants up to adults. There are shoes and accessories as well. The room has a boutique feel to it with a roomy dressing room that is wheel chair friendly. They have a variety of things that will suit the needs of different tastes. Thomas mentions people who need to go on an interview will want to look nice and Blessed Abundantly Ministries can help them with that. In another room next door to the clothes, is the food pantry which will have an assortment of foods. Thomas mentioned her hopes is to get all the community churches involved. Her inspiration for this is a story called ‘The Stone Soup’. The story talks about different people coming to a village with hungry people who couldn’t afford to eat and bringing just a little bit of food each. By the time every different person showed up, the village had a big feast.
Thomas has volunteered for Sharing Life in Mesquite and Life Message in Rowlette, so she is familiar with the workings of outreach work. Thomas also has a degree in Psychology and Sociology. What drives her passion to serve? Amy says she just loves people. So how can you help? “Clothing donations are great. We have a clothing donation box located at the building where they can be dropped off. Food donations are good too and can be dropped off during our hours of operation. However monetary donations are the best. They help us keep the doors open and the lights on. They help us be able to purchase food at a fraction of the regular store price through the East Texas Food Bank. Monetary donations help us to be able to give High School Equivalent Diplomacy classes. These classes will help people be able to get better jobs or go on for high education.“ She said.
The coronavirus has delayed the opening. Thomas says they will have to wait until the social distancing order has stopped, but in the meantime they will take any case that is deemed an emergency. She encourages people to visit the Blessed Abundantly Ministries Facebook page and check for updates on when they will start accepting applications.
Thomas said, “God gave me this vision because I have a passion to help others. I want to be His hands and feet when I can.”
God reminded her of Matthew 25: 35-40 when he put it on her heart that it was time to open the doors.
Matthew 25:35-40 5 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
With God at the helm, Thomas and Blessed Abundantly Ministries is sure to bless Grand Saline Abundantly.