Holmes Beach church connects with Habitat community

jdeleon@bradenton.comSeptember 9, 2013 

ELLENTON -- Children squealed with delight as they slid across a water slide Sunday, while others enjoyed jumping up and down in the bounce house.

Mothers savored the day off from cooking.

The fun-filled afternoon and break from the mundane was made possible thanks to outreach by the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Holmes Beach.

The Gloria Dei cookout was for families at Hope Landing, the Manatee County Habitat for Humanity community under development in Ellenton.

Ana Reyes, the newest homeowner in Hope Landing, said she continues to be amazed by the support of others in the community.

"I'm very blessed with everything they have done," Reyes said in Spanish. "They decorated our rooms, they filled our refrigerator. It is truly a blessing."

Reyes, mother of five, recently moved into her completed home in Hope Landing. Gloria Dei members helped stock her home with dishes, pots and pans, bed linens, curtains, bathroom accessories and appliances before moving in. With the help of Our Daily Bread, they also helped stock the refrigerator and pantry.

"It's wonderful," Reyes said. "A new washer and dryer with five kids. Just imagine!"

On Sunday, Reyes relaxed with her new Hope Landing neighbor, Marleni Nunez,

other nearby residents and friends.

"It's great. We didn't have to make lunch since they brought food," Reyes said. "The kids are having fun."

Reyes and Nunez are grateful for continuous support from Gloria Dei, which set up a home for Nunez earlier this year.

Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which charged all associated churches to do a community service, according to Gloria Dei Pastor Rosemary Backer.

Backer is on the board with Our Daily Bread and, after the previous project with Habitat, she coordinated an outreach project for her congregation. Since Habitat for Humanity, a Christian ministry, does not build on Sundays, she scheduled a cookout instead.

The cookout idea was welcomed and fliers went out inviting all present and future homeowners in Hope Landing along with their family and friends.

Several members of the church helped with the cookout while enjoying the beautiful afternoon.

David Stasney, the church organ player, helped man the grill.

"The church likes to do things like this," Stasney said. "Interestingly enough, we are not one of the wealthiest congregations, but we always find a way."

The cookout was truly an effort by all church members, Stasney said. Contributions included anything from a bottle of ketchup to burgers or hot dogs.

Fun was had by all, Stasney said.

"We also helped decorate the house and stock the pantry before they moved in," Stasney said. "So the house is more like a home."

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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