By Jody Norwood
Tribune-Courier News Editor
GILBERTSVILLE – The prayers of a local woman have been answered with the opening of the Doors of Mercy Mission. But the work is just getting started for Charlotte Prince.
“I had been praying for a long time for a place for anyone in need,” Prince said. “It was just an answered prayer. I had tried years ago to get this place.”
The place was a former bait shop and grocery store along Little Bear Highway. And the former property owner, Joyce McFarland, had been looking to sell it for a number of years. McFarland donated the property in April to get the mission started.
Since then, Prince has been collecting a little bit of everything to help those who come in needing clothes, children’s toys and other basic needs. The items are sorted and kept inside the mission’s front room.
“I can’t do it alone,” Prince said. “We survive on donations. I need volunteers. If we all do our part we can get something done. We can’t always depend on the government. We’ve got to depend on each other. People just don’t have the money right now and they need help.”
The front room of the mission holds shelves of clothing for men, women and children. There’s also something special for youth. Prince arranged the front area specifically with children in mind, situating shelves of toys just inside the mission’s doors.
“We want to make sure no child leaves the mission without a smile on their face,” Prince said. “They always get a toy. The little bit of happiness that’s in a child’s heart is what it’s all about.”
While the first phase has been to get items and clothing for families in need, Prince said there is still much more work to be done to help the dream become reality. The building has space for a shelter, kitchen area and bathrooms. But the building needs plumbing work to get the bathrooms functional, ceiling and wall repair in several areas and other jobs that must be completed before it can serve as a functional shelter.
“I got a personal loan to put the roof on the building,” Prince said. “I’m paying for that by myself.”
Located near Rocky Point boat ramp, the location may be a bit off the beaten path, but it allows for options a mission in a more populated area couldn’t offer. The property goes all the way from the building down to Kentucky Lake across what was several individual lots. Prince said she hopes the area can be cleared in the future and used for recreation.
“It goes all the way down by the water,” Prince said. “It can be used by children or whoever is in the shelter for a little comfort instead of just being stuck in the shelter.”
Having something for everyone fits into Prince’s vision for Doors of Mercy. She hopes to cover a broad list of needs for those who come through the doors.
“You never know, we may have another earthquake or something where people need somewhere to go,” Prince said. “Whatever need they have, we want to try and fulfill that need.”
Anyone in need of items or looking to donate may contact Prince at 921-4035 or 703-9154. The mission is located at 2 Prince Lane along Little Bear Highway in Gilbertsville.