Serve St. John Week touches hundreds in the community

Published 12:05 am Saturday, April 30, 2022

LAPLACE — The First Baptist Church of LaPlace family acted as the hands and feet of Jesus during the second annual Serve St. John Week, an opportunity to give back to those who dedicate their lives to helping others.

Educators, first responders and families impacted by Hurricane Ida were reminded that they are not forgotten. Volunteers from the First Baptist Church of LaPlace mission team and special events committee stepped up to prepare hundreds of meals, deliver boxed lunches, read to children, and take the pressure off of families who have endured so much in the past year.

“This is our second year doing Serve St. John,” Pastor Shane Newton said. “It’s really just about our church wanting to be a light in the community. Instead of trying to get people to come here to our church, we want to go out into our community and make a difference.”

Serve St. John Week kicked off Monday with a four-course candlelight dinner catered specifically to the church members and Wee Care instructors who remain displaced from their homes due to damage from Hurricane Ida.

On Tuesday, volunteers with First Baptist Church of LaPlace started the day reading to Emily C. Watkins students who remain displaced at the Lake Pontchartrain Elementary campus. At lunchtime, volunteers treated the faculty and staff at Riverside Academy to Chick-fil-A.

Wednesday’s activities centered on first responder appreciation. First Baptist Church prepared and served nearly 200 plate lunches of jambalaya, salad, rolls and desserts to members of the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department and the hospital workers at Ochsner in LaPlace. While many first responders dined in the church’s fellowship hall, volunteers also delivered meals to police and fire stations on both sides of the river to reach those who were on duty.

L.J. Brooks and Ashton Joseph of the St. John Parish Fire Department were among the first responders who visited the church on Wednesday.

“I really appreciated it. It’s nice to have the community show some consideration for the first responders in this area,” Brooks said. “I’ve worked at another department where they’re not even allowed to go and sit with the public. They have to get their food and go directly back to the station. Here, it’s never been like that. It’s nice to have the local church do something and to be able to come eat with them.”

Joseph said even small gestures of appreciation carry a lot of meaning.

“We don’t see that often, so it’s greatly appreciated. I’m glad that I’m here to experience it with them,” he said.

On Thursday, 175 boxed Chick-fil-A lunches were delivered to teachers at Wee Care, Emily C. Watkins and Lake Pontchartrain Elementary.

Friday marked a special Parent’s Night Out from 6 to 9 p.m. First Baptist Church provided child care, allowing parents to take advantage of a much-deserved date night. Approximately 30 children were signed up as of press time.

Serve St. John week ends Saturday with trash pick-up and a prayer walk in the community.

Some of the church volunteers took vacation time from work and dedicated their time off to serving others.

“We are planting the seed for people who don’t know Jesus,” said Michelle Dahmer, chair of the special events committee.

Organizers chose to give back to first responders because of their service to the community and educators because of their service to the youth.

“We have a couple of people in our church who are educators. We know because of COVID and the hurricane, a lot of them are displaced at different schools,” Newton said. “We know it’s been tough, and we want to show them that we appreciate what they do. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”