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First Eustis provides random acts of kindness

First Eustis provides random acts of kindness

Skilled TRACK team members volunteer their woodworking expertise. Photo by First UMC of Eustis.

EUSTIS – For years working as a city manager in places around the country, First United Methodist Church of Eustis member Pat Thomas saw first-hand how many people struggle with everyday challenges and responsibilities, especially caring for their homes.

Two team members helping each other on a painting project. Photo by First UMC of Eustis.

“The need is in every community,” he said recently. “You just have to look around. It is something that is causing a lot of people a lot of stress."

There was a time when neighbors and family would pitch in to help an aging family member with the upkeep of a home or provide trips to the doctor or support families in financial need.

Today it seems neighbors don’t spend much time together and families are scattered far and wide. Many folks don’t know who to call when they need help or may even be too proud to ask.

That is why Thomas, 69, rallied a group of friends at his church of two years and started T.R.A.C.K., or Totally Random Acts of Christian Kindness, and the team began helping those in need around their town.

“It was just something that came on my heart,” he said. “I felt like it was something that would energize people in our congregation.” His church was founded in 1882 and has about 160 people in church each Sunday, so that was his starting point.

After the liner is placed, team members spread the mulch. Photo by First UMC of Eustis.

He made contacts with the city code enforcement authorities to let them know his group was willing to help. He gathered his friends at the church, and they began spending Saturdays making repairs, painting and driving people to appointments. So far, they have completed three significant home improvement and clean-up projects for people in the community. One project was for a couple in their 90s who couldn’t take care of their home on their own.

Thomas said it hasn’t been difficult to get organized. He puts out the word to his core teammates via emails and usually invites new people to help with each effort. Surprisingly, this group doesn’t have a budget or meetings--- it all happens organically. Each member of the team brings the tools they need or buys supplies themselves.

Most of Thomas’ team members are retired and ready to show others expressions of God’s love, he said.  Any church can do the same, he said.

“You can do it without a high level of skills,” he said. “Almost anyone can do this.”

The team grows in number using emails and posts on Facebook. The team is slowly adding new members and hopes to keep going for as long as there is a need, Thomas said.