For the Least of These: The Ministry of Dorcas
In Joppa, there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated, is Dorcas), who was always doing good and helping the poor.
Dorcas Ministries began in 1968 when local Cary citizens saw the need to do good and help the poor in their community. After recognizing a void in quality educational programs for low-income families, local Christians stepped in to create a literacy curriculum for impoverished adults. They also started an enrichment kindergarten for children—a program which now has ties to Kingswood Elementary School.
Over the years, as volunteers built relationships with the people they were serving, the ministry expanded beyond educational needs to encompass many unmet physical needs as well. Thus, the Dorcas Thrift Shop, Food Pantry, and Crisis Ministry were born.
Since 1972, the Dorcas Thrift Shop has provided a dignified space for low-income residents to shop for clothes, toys, and household items. Volunteers are constantly needed to sort donations and stock the floors. The shop is also continually looking for gently-used items for resale.
The Food Pantry offers a safe space for low-income families to purchase canned goods, frozen foods, and fresh produce. All the items are donated locally, and like the thrift shop, the grocery store is also volunteer-run.
The Crisis Ministry supports individuals experiencing acute distress through counseling and financial support. By providing childcare, job training, and educational scholarships, the Crisis Ministry aims to not only address temporary problems, but also to equip people for a brighter future. Jill Straight, the Outreach Programs Manager at Dorcas, attests to the ministry’s success saying, “Those in need come in feeling hopeless, work through their challenges, and ultimately regain stability and self-sufficiency.”
As Christians, it is our great privilege and joy to help others in need. With the many facets of Dorcas Ministries, there are ample places to get involved. Peace Member Katharine Parrish, for example, volunteers as a counselor in the Crisis Ministry. She has been blessed to see many “success stories,” including a recent woman who after fleeing an abusive marriage was able to tap into the Dorcas Ministries job assistance program. After months in a new job, the woman came back to thank Katharine, saying with a smile, “It all happened because someone listened and cared.”
This woman’s sentiment has been echoed time and again by those who have benefitted from the Dorcas Ministries. Whether it is a family in need of groceries, a single mom searching for school clothes for her children, or a man desperate for debt forgiveness to get back on his feet, the refrain of Dorcas Ministry recipients is clear: “I couldn’t have done it without Dorcas.”
In addition to “doing good and helping the poor,” the Dorcas mission is also rooted in the passage from Matthew 25:31-45, where Jesus explains that at His coming, he will separate people like a shepherd separates sheep from goats, exalting those who helped the poor:
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me… ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The Dorcas Thrift Shop, Food Pantry, and Crisis Ministry all have great needs for donations and for volunteers. Outreach Programs Manager, Jill Straight, says, “I hope more people consider joining the Dorcas family of volunteers. We always need mentors, career coaches and helpers in the thrift shop.” As members of Peace Church respond to that call, Katharine Parrish will attest: “If you love the Lord Jesus and want to share that love with others, there is a place for you at Dorcas.”
For more information about donations or volunteering at the Thrift Shop, click here.
For more information about donations or volunteering at the Food Pantry, click here.
You can also directly access the Online Volunteer Form here.