What We Do…
I made the widow’s heart sing,
I was a father to the fatherless.
I took up the case of the stranger
Since 1981, Good Works has sought to serve the vulnerable, the voiceless and the powerless in rural Appalachia. Our vision is to create a loving COMMUNITY OF HOPE where those struggling with homelessness, poverty and recovery issues can experience God’s LOVE, identify their FAITH and develop HOPE: the ability to see beyond their circumstances, crisis and emotions and the moral strength to persevere into the future of possibilities. We seek to improve the quality of life of those we serve by helping each person make connections with people, programs, services and opportunities in our community.
In the Beginning…
Good Works began by providing shelter for the rural homeless when Keith Wasserman had a vision to reach out to those struggling with homelessness and poverty in rural Appalachian, Ohio. During his last year at Ohio University, Keith remodeled the basement of his home at #3 Elliott Street in Athens, Ohio into a two-bedroom apartment. There he opened a shelter for adults and children experiencing homelessness with the help of friends and supporters. The ministry operated out of this makeshift facility from 1981-84, during which time Keith and his wife Darlene were primarily volunteers, serving as the only staff members. In 1982, a board of directors was formed, and in 1984 the organization was incorporated with tax-exempt 501(c) 3 status. In 1984, the Good Works Emergency Shelter moved out of the home of the Wasserman’s and into its present facility on Central Avenue which we re-named The Timothy House in 1998.
As a Christian community, we are compelled by the biblical vision to love the stranger, defend the widow and care for the fatherless (Deuteronomy 10:18, Psalm 67:5-6, Matthew 25:31-46 & James 1:26-27). Good Works is focused on these population groups with two over-riding values: to love God and to love our neighbor. Our vision is to learn how to ourselves to others in sacrificial love and to provide an avenue though which the community can participate with us. Together, we can really bring HOPE to those who feel lonely, forgotten, rejected and helpless in our community.
Here are a few of our different on-going initiatives:
The Timothy House
The Timothy House is more than just a shelter for people who experience homelessness. People who come to live at the Timothy House become a part of a community. Building trust and teaching responsibility are core values. Promoting education, meeting felt needs, and strengthening each person’s dignity are all part of our ministry emphasis. A significant part of our role is advocacy—speaking on behalf of people without homes to those who have the power and resources to assist them. Another important aspect of our role is helping each person identify the underlying problems that led to the situation they are in; helping them discover a starting place and empowering them with accountability to take responsibility for those matters that they can do something about. In an environment where we strive to balance compassion and tough love, we have structured the Timothy House to allow each person to do as much for themselves as possible. Our goal is to help our residents propel their personal growth through loving accountability which comes from participating in a community where each person makes a significant contribution. Residents are responsible for keeping the house clean, fixing meals, doing laundry and yard work. The Timothy House, located on the west side of Athens, currently has four bedrooms with 15 beds, a living room, a kitchen, two bathrooms, two offices, a computer training lab and a large eating/meeting room. The Timothy House is staffed by Good Works full-time staff who work together with an average of 50 volunteers. Covering a geographical area of 9 counties in SE Ohio, we provided an average of 167 people with shelter each year over the past 5 years. Our objective is to provide a safe, clean and stable yet temporary place to stay while people identify, own and work on the issues which have caused them to experience homelessness.
The Good Works Property located on Luhrig Road
Purchased in 1994, this property supports two thirds of the Good Works’ ministry. The center of this property, The Hannah House, is where we provide Life in Transition, a long term transitional housing opportunity intended to provide single men and women who are without a home an extended period of stability in their lives that will enable them to move toward independence and self-sufficiency. The Hannah House is also home to the Appalachian Immersion Interns who provide leadership to Life in Transition and several other Good Works initiatives. In addition to providing offices for some of the Good Works staff, The Hannah House also provides a temporary home to many visiting Work Retreat groups who come from all over the US and Canada and stay in our two 15 bed dorms for a few days to a full week. On an average year, Good Works hosts about 40 different Work Retreat groups. Also located on the wooded 35 acres of the Good Works Luhrig Road property are the Administrative Offices for Good Works, Good Gifts (a retail gift store), Country Bed & Breakfast, The Carter Cabin, The Transformation Station, the Good Works’ community garden and various new hiking and walking trails.
The Transformation Station
Built in 2003 and completed in 2004, the Transformation Station (TS) is both a physical building and a Good Works initiative. The TS is a resource center where people struggling with poverty can receive the following items: automobiles, bicycles, appliances and food. Good Works receives the donations of these items and provides them to our neighbors in rural Appalachia through bartering their time and talents in exchange for receiving a needed item as a gift. This opportunity is not designed for anyone in crisis.
Friday Night Life
Since 1993, Good Works has provided a community sit-down family style supper—we call it Friday Night Life—every Friday night for people who are experiencing homelessness, recovering from being homeless and others struggling with poverty in rural Appalachian Ohio. Sponsored by churches and community groups, this community-building event is held six months of the year on the Good Works Luhrig Road property (picnic style) and six months in partnership with The Plains United Methodist Church. Following the supper, staff and volunteers provide a wide range of activities for an estimated 100+ adults as well as a Friday Night Kids Club for about 30-40 kids and teens. Through its various programs, Good Works provides an estimated 21,000 meals to the people struggling with hunger and homelessness in rural SE Ohio. All food provided to Good Works is donated.
This special place of solitude is designed for anyone who wants a time of rest, reflection and solitude in a very quiet and private setting. The Carter Cabin is located on the Good Works Luhrig Road property and the use of this cabin is available at no charge to anyone. To reserve time at the cabin call us at 740.594-3336.
Each year, Good Works welcomes 200-300 adults and teens to participate in Summer Service. These volunteer Work Retreat groups stay in our 30 bed dorm at The Hannah House and participate in several different areas of our mission. These include visiting widows at their homes serving with Neighbors Helping Neighbors, volunteering at our every-day Kids Discovery Club and Summer Lunch, volunteering at The Timothy House, working on different projects on Good Works property and using the Carter Cabin. Good Works also provides a one week volunteer experience for anyone age 16 or older. Click on Week of Service under internships to learn more.
Training for Life Computer Class
Begun in 2003, this computer training course is designed to assist people living at The Timothy House and others from our community to obtain the computer skills which will give them a “leg up” over the employment fence. Located at The Timothy House, this course provides hands-on computer training 2-3 days a week for those who find it hard to find employment without these skills.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Senior Friends
Neighbors Helping Neigbors was created in 1999 to provide another opportunity for youth and adults to serve seniors and people with disabilities in rural Appalachia. Through Neighbors Helping Neighbors, summer and weekend Work Retreat groups are directed to serve needy citizens at their homes. Teams visit families all over Athens county from Coolville to Glouster to Albany. This outreach has an estimated 500 participants each year.
Senior Friends: Job 29:13 declares: “...I made the widow’s heart sing.” We at Good Works long to see that happen! Senior Friends is intended to provide a way for volunteers to meet and get-to-know senior citizens who desire people to visit them regularly. Local volunteers who desire to learn and benefit from their relationships with widows, widowers and people with physical disabilities are encouraged to apply.
It is the philosophy of Good Works to give a “hand up” to people in poverty, rather than a “hand out.” Therefore, Good Works is committed to developing in people the character and skills they need to succeed in obtaining, maintaining and increasing in their employment goals. Our small businesses and The Transformation Station are intended primarily as a training opportunity and a context where our staff, volunteers and interns can facilitate practical experiences for people who live in Athens County who would benefit from “on-the-job” training.
Country Bed and Breakfast
We provide a private “hotel” accommodations to anyone visiting the Athens area through our initiative called Country Bed and Breakfast. This is a private room with a bathroom and kitchenette. If you are visiting the area, you are invited to make a reservation with us. Please call us at 740.594.3336 or click here for information, photos and rates.
Developed in 1998, Good Gifts is the first Good Works small business and was intended help people in poverty both locally and globally. Through two international organizations (Ten Thousand Villages and Serv International), we purchase hand-crafted gift items made by people who live in developing nations and then sell these items locally. The profits made from this business go towards providing for the utility costs of a few of our buildings on the Good Works property.
Good Works has developed a beautiful recreation area and picnic shelter (located on the Good Works property on Luhrig Road) that can be rented by community groups. The fee for renting the shelter includes access to the new kitchen and bathroom facilities, as well as volleyball, basketball and playground areas. There are also nature/hiking trails on the property. If you would like to rent these facilities, call us at 740.594.3336. For current rates, please click here.
The Annual Good Works Walk
The Good Works Walk is intended to do two things: educate the public about the recurrent and pervasive issues that people in poverty face—particularly in Appalachia, and raise money to fund Good Works’ Timothy House, our shelter for the rural homeless. Click here for more information, as well as some materials for participating in the Walk. It’s fun, as well as informative.
Our vision to establish a COMMUNITY OF HOPE is completely dependent upon others willing to “step up to the plate” and participate with us as we learn to love and serve our neighbors here in rural Ohio who are struggling with poverty and homelessness. Good Works has established a wide range of creative opportunities for volunteers to have hands-on, face-to-face contact with those we serve. If you’d like to learn how you can love and serve your neighbors through Good Works, contact us at 740-594-3339 or click here.
Good Works exists to connect people from all walks of life with people in poverty so that the Kingdom of God can be experienced.