Why you want to know Elden Lee Blakely: Elden has been involved in a ministry that serves the homeless in Rogers since its beginning in spring 2016. The “8th Street Motel Ministry,” so-called because of the location it serves, offers a meal, resources and counseling for those who are temporarily without a place to live and for those who continue to struggle with other issues of poverty. Elden serves as a social advocate in the ministry by listening to clients and recommending resources that could assist them in finding employment, medical or dental care, food or a place to stay.
Parish: St. Vincent de Paul Church
IN HIS OWN WORDS
Arkansas Catholic’s theme this year is “The Truth will set you free.” What is your favorite Scripture verse?
My favorite Scripture verse is Matthew 25:40. “And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ”
What made you interested in the 8th Street Motel Ministry?
Sister Lisa Atkins sparked my interest in serving with the 8th Street Motel Ministry. I was immediately drawn to this ministry because it is hands-on and is here in my hometown.
What have you learned in working with the homeless that you would share with others?
I had no idea there were so many in need. I have learned that the homeless just want to be heard. Some are not homeless by choice. Part of my job as a social advocate is to listen and just be there. If we are baptized we are called to get out there and be the hands of Jesus.
How long have you been a member at this parish?
I have been a member of St. Vincent de Paul for 29 years. It is a very dynamic parish.
Why do you like being Catholic?
As a convert I feel Catholicism is more than a religion, it is a lifestyle. I love everything about being Catholic and all the Church has to offer. It is an honor to be a sacristan and serve the community of St. Vincent de Paul.
What is your occupation?
I have been a Mercy associate since September 2013 and just renewed my covenant with them in September 2016. I attended advocacy training for PATH, Partners Against Human Trafficking, in 2015 and learned that is another ministry where there are voices to be heard. I also enjoy my job as a hairstylist. That can be a ministry in itself! I don’t have time for hobbies, but that’s OK, I love being busy with what I feel Jesus has called me to be, a servant.
How do you strengthen your faith?
An important guideline for me is from the constitution of the Sisters of Mercy #3. It recalls the words of Jesus and that he is one with his suffering members. “We respond to the cries of the poor, through direct service and through our influence we seek to relieve misery, to address its causes and to support all persons who struggle for full dignity.” My faith is made strong giving hope to those who feel hopeless. We all as a community need to know that sometimes something as simple as just sitting with someone and listening can make a big difference in their day.
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