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Local minister reminds citizens services are free

By SARAH BRADBURY

sarah@southwesttimes.com

 

The Rev. Randy Jarrells, minister of the Wytheville Cowboy Church, came by The Southwest Times to assure the public that services provided by his church and a group of volunteers at Norman’s House in Pulaski are free to “anybody and everybody that needs them,” he said. “There’s a rumor around town that Norman’s House charges or asks for donations when we give out the food and there is no truth to it whatsoever.”

Jarrells said the group does not ask for donations and “if people offer and ask if we accept donations, I tell them, ‘When you see our sign that says reopen, if you want and if you would like, people who want to can donate.’” He says people can bring paper plates, napkins, canned food or something “if they want to.”

“We never solicited money or funds because the Lord has always provided our needs and we’re here to serve the community of Pulaski,” he said. “We’re blessed to get supplies from Roanoke, from another ministry, for free, and we go and pick it up for free and we hand it out for free.”

Norman’s House was featured in The Southwest Times last year as part of the “No place to call home” series. At that time, they had been shut down temporarily by the town until they made some necessary repairs to the facility, which is donated for use. “We did everything that was asked of us by the town and actually it turned out to be a blessing because it’s a better facility now. It’s quite different,” said Jarrells.

“We’ve got handicapped bathrooms for male and female now, we’ve fixed a bunch of issues in the building and we’re addressing more. It’s actually made it a better environment for people. They feel welcome and like they belong when they come to Norman’s House,” said Jarrells. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere and you feel comfortable. It’s not like walking into your typical church where some may not feel like they belong. Anybody who walks into Norman’s is welcome. Anybody. We don’t care.”

Jarrells said he and the other volunteers at Norman’s House are here to serve the people of Pulaski “as Jesus served the disciples and the people that served him.”

He said Norman’s House gets a great deal of donations from another undisclosed ministry in Roanoke. “The people in Roanoke wouldn’t give it to me if there was not trust between us because they’ve had issues with people in the past who come and get stuff for free and then turn around and sell it,” said Jarrells. “They’re entrusting me with the things that I get from them and they know that I give it back out free of charge to anybody and everybody that comes along.”

Rebecca and George Hamilton, a couple interviewed by The Southwest Times last year who are very involved in Norman’s House, are still giving their time and dedication to the repair process. “We’re down to the painting and finishing the tables,” said Jarrells. “We have to change the doors and then we have our final inspection and probably will get our certificate of occupancy. Then we will be able to open back up. We’ve already had several churches ready to step in and start serving and we’re going to serve every Sunday like before.”

Jarrells said it’s a blessing to be working with the ministry in Roanoke, and that he never knows what they’re going to have. “I ended up with 50 cases of sprite melons. They’re supposed to be a delicacy,” he said. “I gave several cases away and several more were delivered to homeless people.” Jarrells said what he doesn’t give away he leaves sitting in the parking lot by his truck with a sign that says “free fruit.”

“Most people know me as the man who sits there in the white truck with the sign handing stuff out in the parking lot.” Jarrells said they also give out bread and that people can’t believe it’s free. “The people that come, you wouldn’t believe it, but that bread is all they have for the month.”

“Jesus Christ showed us the greatest example of being a servant when he washed the disciples feet at the Last Supper. That’s an example that we try to follow,” said Jarrells. “We become servants of the people. The people aren’t our servants, we are servants to them.”

When asked what he thinks of the homeless situation since we spoke last year, Jarrells said he thinks the homeless situation is increasing. “There’s another little tent city that’s popped up over in Draper. I have a person that goes up there and takes bread and meat and fruit,” said Jarrells. “That’s something else we’ve been blessed with. We pick up stuff at Food Lion in Christiansburg and Blacksburg on Saturdays and Sundays and we get lots of cakes, breads from the deli and meats. Last week just about everything we took out went to the homeless. We do it to glorify God.”

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