Every month, the men and women of Hahnville’s New Union Baptist Church trek to New Orleans volunteer at the Project Lazarus House and the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge, where people are battling for their lives. And in the middle of that fight, the New Union members hope to expand their efforts to share their worship with those who need it most.
Project Lazarus provides transitional housing to people living with HIV or AIDS who have no other place to live. Patients go there in various stages of health and care is provided according to each person’s needs. The Hope Lodge program helps patients cope with cancer treatment and provides both emotional and financial support.
The New Union volunteers often provide meals for the patients at both locations, worship and converse with them. A number of patients expressed they wished they could attend services at New Union, and the church is attempting to make that a reality.
“A number of patients, especially from Lazarus House, have been shunned from families because of their situation. At the Hope Lodge, their families may not have the time to bring them,” said Allison Scott, a regular volunteer and member of New Union. “They’re in that home because (the families need help caring for them). Many of these people’s last days will be at either the Lazarus House or the Hope Lodge. So when they expressed they wanted to come, we wanted them to feel included.”
Scott is overseeing fundraising efforts as the church would like to purchase a van to transport patients at the Lazarus House and Hope Lodge to and from services.
“We want to give them that sense of love, the feeling of family and fill their hearts with praise,” Scott said. “One thing I love about our church is we’re all like a family, and we want them to have that same sense of family and be able to go to a church service on Sunday. Even if we can bring them to our Bible study, we just want them to have that option and be included.”
Scott said she knows personally how hearing God’s word and being in a place of total acceptance improves her emotional state, and noted for these patients, it’s that much more important to have that feeling and outlet.
“I know they can be in a very lonely place, given what they’re dealing with,” Scott said. “I’ve always been fortunate enough to have that great support group, with my family and now with the church as well. We want them to know God hasn’t forgotten about them and that they’re also important.”
The New Union volunteers cook meals, preparing turkey and dirty rice for a recent trip. While Scott admits “I’m not the greatest cook,” the patients seem to truly enjoy the meals nonetheless.
Even more so, the prayer sessions, she said, have garnered a very positive reaction.
“I’ve had patients come to me and hug me, tell me that ‘I needed to hear this,’” Scott said. “A lot of people give up hope. They get excited. You see a lot of different people from trip to trip and you just hope you can provide a little bit of a lift for each of them in any way you can.”
Scott became a member of New Union three years ago, and the volunteer trips are part of why she believes it’s a perfect place for her.
“Everyone is so together and so loving. They do things for the right reasons,” Scott said.
Scott has set up a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/tzywg-church-fundraiser), while others interested in donating may e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.