The Yellow House
by Jeanne Griffin
When a beloved family member passes away, it doesnít take long for the impersonal, business realities of life to intrude upon our mourning. Our attention must turn from our grief to things like notifying the Social Security office, closing bank accounts, and discussing estate issues with lawyers.
When my mother, Polly Griffin, died in early 2003, our family had to take care of these cold details. Because my mother was also the director of the Workers For Jesus, there were additional issues to be dealt with. One of these was the future of our organizationís building in Hamiltonís North End.
No matter how much it is loved and cherished, a building, especially a building that is over 100 years old, requires a lot of time, energy, and money. Illnesses in our family over the past several years had caused a shortage of all three. As a sad result, the passing years had taken their toll on our building. It needed very extensive repairs to be functional again. No matter how many different plans and strategies we came up with, the result was the same--the cost to renovate our building was more than we could afford. We were forced to face the heartbreaking fact that the only choice was to sell it.
We started meeting with real estate agents, investors. appraisers, auctioneers and potential buyers. They could only see the repairs that needed to be done. We were told repeatedly that the location of the building was not "desirable". It was extremely painful knowing that others regarded the place that my mother loved so much as a "bad investment".
For the Workers For Jesus, the old brick house on 5th St. will never be thought of as a "bad investment". My motherís hard work and vision of a better and more caring world was an investment that will continue to pay rewards more valuable than money for years and generations to come.
My mother had been looking for a place to carry out her Workers For Jesus projects, and in 1981, she found exactly what she wanted. It was big, sturdy brick house located in a low income neighborhood where the crime rate was high. This was a "desirable" neighborhood for Mom. She wanted to work in a part of town where the needs were great.
Mom called the new purchase the Workers For Jesus Center. In our family, we referred to it as "the Center". Mom was in her glory when she was there painting the walls or planting daffodils in the yard. She had many dreams and goals for the Workers For Jesus and planned many projects. My dad, brother, and I worried when she spent time there by herself while we were at work. But she told us this was where she wanted to be and what she wanted to be doing.
Polly with her Hiking Club in 1984
For the next few years, the Center was alive with lots of Workers For Jesus activities. There were craft classes, exercise classes, Bible studies, a Sunday School, and our biggest program, a youth group for children called the Hiking Club.
The Hiking Club was a program set up by Mom to teach children about nature and the beauty of Godís creation in a fun way. My friend Jenť Krall and I were the first leaders of the group. Our original members were kids from the neighborhood and also children of some of Momís co-workers at the nursing home where she worked at the time. The Center was our meeting place. Sometimes we would stay there and have activities, and other times we took the kids on field trips to parks and other places in our area.
Over the next few years, we added more Hiking Club members and more leaders. Mom started a Hiking Club for very young children. Eventually the deaf children who I taught at school also became part of our group. They christened the Center with an additional and more descriptive name, "The Yellow House".
Leaders Jeanne and Jenť
As the children got older, we took longer trips to other cities and traveled to out-of-state places: Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, Nashville, Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains, Washington, D.C., Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Vermont, Boston, and Niagara Falls.
The years spent at the Yellow House were good and happy times of sharing Godís love.
The children who participated in our activities are now grown, and we have lost contact with many of them. We still see most of them, though, and have get-togethers in our home at least 4 times a year.
Life has held its ups and downs for all of us. Many of the children are parents themselves now and bring their sons and daughters with them. Some have struggled through hard times and bumpy roads, while things have gone more smoothly for others. Tragically, two of our members passed away when they were only in their 20's. Some of our members have made the decision to live their lives for Christ, and others are still finding their way.
The other leaders and I are proud of all of them and feel honored that we have been part of their lives.
Not long ago, one of our original members who now lives out of town called to say hello. He wanted to let us know that he has been preaching. He wanted to tell us that "the seeds we planted are bearing fruit".
Only God knows how all of the seeds that were planted at the Yellow House will grow and bear fruit. We know that this fruit will then plant new seeds in the lives of new people and will continue on for years and years. This was Momís intended investment when she bought the Center 24 years ago.
We no longer own the Yellow House. The new owners are making the long overdue repairs, and someday soon, there will be people living in the house again.
Every spring, the daffodils that Mom planted will grow and bloom. We hope
they will touch the hearts of all who see them and be a continual reminder of
Godís love and the beauty of His creation.
|Picnic at Joyce Park, 1983||Christmas program, 1982|
|Mike, Billy, Don||Christmas party|
|Camping at Mammoth Cave, 1985|
|Jimmy and Cheri||Terrie and Ada, 1988|
|Jim and Jenť Krall||Billy at Breaks Interstate Park in Virginia, 1984|
|Krohn Conversatory, 1985||The Conley and Hammons families|
|Washington, DC, 1988||Mike, Mike, and Gary, Nashville, 1985|
|Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, 1988||Niagara Falls, 1988|
|Cookout, 1989||Allison, Gloria, and Dean|
|The Hammons family, 1990's||Gary, 1987|
|Bonnie and family, 1990's||Mike and Julia|
|Billy, Jeanne, Christina, Barbie, and Lisa||Tina, Lisa, Craig, Cassie, Brittney, Genny, and Jamaceo|
|Billy, Vincent, and Michelle||Craig, Jermel, Craig Jr and Jamaceo|