Introducing Dr. Bob Cowie, Member of Mercy’s Board of Directors
I became attracted to Mercy Support Services because of their goal to give those in need a hand UP not a hand OUT. Through Bible study I know that throughout the Old and New Testaments we are taught to care for those in need- the widows, orphans, the poor and disabled. But just giving money to someone always left me in a quandary: was my money being put to good use and did it really help to improve their life?
I soon learned that the Mercy program was designed to help those in need to reach a level of self-sufficiency. This was not just giving out food or providing temporary housing, but providing a care coach, mentoring, financial and savings guidance, help with employment, getting child care and most importantly, all done within the framework of prayer and Christian love.
After joining the Board of Directors, one of my greatest joys was sitting at the table during our monthly meetings with a Baptist, a Methodist, a Catholic, a Seventh Day Adventist, and several members of independent Christian community churches. All of our doctrinal differences disappeared, and we have never mentioned our minor differences in beliefs. The focus of the group is always on Christ’s teachings to treat others as we would want to be treated. The presence of the Holy Spirit can always be felt at Mercy.
I was most fortunate to be raised in a Christian home with parents, surrounded by an extended family of grandparents, aunts, and uncles, who took me to church, encouraged me to do well in school, to work hard, and to budget my time and money. At Mercy I have learned that most, if not all, of our clients were not that fortunate. Being raised without that guidance, unfortunate circumstances, and sometimes poor decisions led most to where they are when they have turned to Mercy. Our efforts concentrate on turning those lives around, and bring many to know the love of our Lord.
Recently, our Board was presented with astonishing statistics from the Clay County School System. Over 1000 children in Clay County are homeless – some even in kindergarten and pre-K grades. There are 73 “unaccompanied” youth at Orange Park High School, meaning they have no parent or legal guardian. Sleeping wherever they can, they are known as “couch surfers.” Imagine being a homeless, parent-less teenager, but still trying to go to school each day to better yourself. We have an opportunity to help these youth before they give up and turn to drugs, prostitution, and crime.
There are so many ways that we can help individuals while we better our community. I still dream that not only will we be able to make our county a better place, but that the work we do will inspire other communities to model our efforts and create their own Mercy Support organization.
Our organization’s name is not a coincidence. MERCY – it says it all!