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A spirit that is not afraid

No More Shacks: Alabama Rural Ministry's week long fundraising event

<p>Lisa Pierce visits with a guest outside of Wesley Foundation at her shack in Auburn on Oct. 15, 2018.</p>

Lisa Pierce visits with a guest outside of Wesley Foundation at her shack in Auburn on Oct. 15, 2018.

From Oct. 18 to Oct. 23, Alabama Rural Ministry hosted an event in which participants stayed in shacks at the Wesley Foundation on 131 S. Gay Street to symbolize life in substandard housing. 

The goal of the event was to raise $200,000 that went towards volunteer efforts and supplies for Alabamians in need of housing repairs. Community members were encouraged to sign up to sit at the shack and contribute to the ongoing fundraiser. 

ARM is an interdenominational Christian organization that coordinates various fundraising and hands-on events, such as housing repair efforts and children’s day camps. 

The week-long shacking event included ARM staff, as well as community leaders, board members and other supporters. Each shack-dweller had a goal to raise $2,000 towards home repair efforts. 

Community members were able to sign up and participate and are still encouraged to donate to the shacking event on the ARM website.

Parents were encouraged to bring their children to the Wesley Foundation. If parents contributed a $5 donation to the fundraiser, their kids could paint the shacks however they pleased. 

Lisa Pierce, the executive director and founder of ARM, graduated from Auburn University in 1995. She started the foundation in Sumter County, Alabama, in 1998 as a pilot project through the University of West Alabama Wesley Foundation – a United Methodist campus organization – and Auburn University. 

“This ministry has become an awareness tool to show that we have neighbors in this community that are unseen. And having these [shacks] out here help to bring a visual understanding of what kind of housing repair needs are out there,” Pierce said. 

The first shack is 15-years-old and was built by Joe O’Neill, ARM’s construction supervisor. According to Pierce, they call it a “Joe in the Box.” It was O'Neill’s idea to live in the shacks as an event.

The event included a broad variety of volunteers, many of whom were introduced to ARM by the Auburn Wesley Foundation. 

Joe Davis serves with the Auburn United Methodist Church staff as the mission and outreach director of mission and outreach ministries. He is an Auburn graduate and served as an ARM intern after being introduced to the Wesley Foundation during his freshman year of college.

Davis had an instant connection with Alabama Rural Ministry and has stayed involved in the organization through the years.

 “It was a really impactful experience because I was able to go back to my home and be a part of the community in a way I had never been before,” O'Neill said.

The plethora of volunteers present are dedicated to serving the underprivileged in Lee County and continue to be advocates for housing improvements.

The event ended on Oct. 23, but community members are still encouraged to donate on their website to their housing repair and relief efforts. 

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