POMEROY — Last fall, an anonymous donor challenged the churches of the Meigs County Cooperative Parish to pay off the almost $60,000 loan balance by offering to match half of the amount owing if the parish raises $30,000 by Nov. 1.
Although the loan’s maturity date was not until April 2019, parish officials felt it was an opportunity to pay off the loan early.
The nonprofit organization is made up of 23 churches throughout Meigs County that came together with a mission of “growing, sharing and uniting God’s people.”
Located in the former Pomeroy Grade School, the building was purchased in 2003 for $1. Renovations were necessary and funds came from donations, as well as a loan for $260,000 that required monthly payments.
The parish had some difficulty obtaining the loan, but Bill Nease, then-president of the Racine Home National Bank, stepped forward with confidence that the loan would be repaid.
A campaign was initiated in 2010 to reduce the principal and many individuals came forward to contribute $5 per month to assist with the endeavor.
The facility provides a space for numerous ministries including Mulberry Community Kitchen, Thrift Store and Food Pantry. The parish has many projects it sponsors and is used by many in the community as a meeting place.
For example, in August, the parish was used for the pick up of book bags filled with school supplies for qualifying students. Student from Meigs Industries have lunch on Thursdays and then hold an art class that is open to the public. The Middleport-Pomeroy Rotary use the conference room for their weekly meetings.
The MCCO’s efforts contribute much to the community, and with the loan extinguished, could look forward to having additional funds to provide even more resources to needs within the community and operating expenses of the center.
According to board member and 2016 chair-elect of the council Robert Beegle, parish officials realized many in the community were already involved in fundraising activities.
“But with the opportunity to double your money, it is a hard challenge to turn down,” Beegle said when discussing the donor challenge.
He and other parish members hoped that individuals and organizations within the community who appreciate the services the center provides will join the fundraising efforts.
As the Nov. 1 deadline loomed for the Meigs County Cooperative Parish to meet a challenge, Beegle was at his desk writing letters to more potential contributors to the cause when he was told that more than $7,000 had just been donated to the parish, more than enough to meet their goal.
The anonymous donor was notified and immediately came forward with their check for more than $30,000.
When asked what the plan was to celebrate their achievement and the generosity of the donors, Beegle and current parish members replied that it happened so fast, they needed time to prepare.
“We were so busy trying to meet the goal,” Beegle said. “And having it met so unexpectedly, that’s not a bad problem to have, but we hadn’t thought about what we would do if it happened.”
The day was finally planned for the May Mortgage Burning Celebration, and members of the Tuesday Volunteers — Jimmy Frye, Billie Joe Spencer and Ed Ball — had the honor of burning the mortgage.
The ceremony was presided over by David Ridgeway, past chair of the Coordinating Council, while another past director, Don Shaeffer, stood by with a fire extinguisher, just in case.
The Rev. Wesley Thoene gave the invocation and Parish Executive Committee members Beegle, present chair Peter Barnhart and vice chair and past chair David Ridgeway were recognized, as well as several other past directors.
The Rev. Bill Marshall was reveled as the donation challenger and recognized for his generous assistance in paying off the loan.
Special acknowledgment went to Bill Nease for making the loan available to the Parish when other financial institutions were reluctant to do so.
Retired minister Keith Rader, also a past director, gave a history of the parish and the Rev. Dennis Miller, Methodist Church district superintendent, spoke and blessed the facility.
Refreshments were then served and guests toured the mortgage-free Mulberry Community Center.
For more information on the Mulberry Community Center, visit their Facebook page at Meigs Cooperative Parish or e-mail the parish at email@example.com.
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.