Paske tells Rotarians of Friendship Ministries outreach

Published 4:48 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Josh Paske of Friendship Ministries spoke to Rotary this week. He began by showing a video presentation of several community leaders who were interviewed as to what they considered to be the biggest problems facing Bainbridge and Decatur County.

The issues identified were: breakdown of families, poverty, lack of stability of families, unemployment, young people needing something to do, drugs and alcohol abuse, poverty and homelessness.

Paske then went on to tell how Friendship Ministries is addressing each of these issues through their three main ministries. The first, Friendship House, works with youth, providing them a safe place after school and in the summer. It was begun 20 years ago by the former Jane Forsyth who started out with a blanket and a Bible meeting with 20 or so young people once a week. Paske, who has been with the organization 18 years now, has seen many changes and growth in the services offered.

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Now there are 200 kids meeting regularly who receive academic remediation, Bible study, recreation, arts and crafts.

Anna Kinchen teaches a photography class and Johnny Payne is in charge of the music ministry. Through all of the activities, the biggest achievement is the building of relationships. Paske compares it to a Family, saying, “We create an environment of family and support they do not have at home.”

One thing led to another and now there is Still Waters, a temporary home for displaced women and their children. Their purpose is to provide a safe place to live while they prepare and train the women with necessary skills to be able to work and live independently. They have served 67 women with 42 children and of those 85 percent have succeeded.

One of the ways that program has succeeded has been the start up of The Refinery, a very successful candle making company that has provided more than 10,000 candles throughout a market that now has more demand than they can supply. They are looking at changes to accommodate their growing market.

The success of Friendship Ministries has spread to the City of Donalsonville, where there is now a program for youth, and Paske says other communities are now looking at the Bainbridge model in hopes of starting a program of their own.

Paske says they are definitely working on issues of children from broken homes, especially those where there is no father. He said they soon realized that what many of the young boys needed was a man in their lives. He posed the question, “How can you become a man, a husband, a father, if you have never seen one?” He quoted some statistics that in Decatur and Seminole Counties 55 percent of the children come from broken families.

This lack of family stability then contributes to the other issues of poverty, suicides and substance abuse.

Paske thanked the Rotary Club for a handicap ramp they built at the Friendship House site. He then issued a broad invitation to come join the Friendship Family at the fund raising event held by Friendship Ministries. This year it will be November 29 at the Kirbo Center.