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At St. James, Eufaula, low-income families learn skills, gain hope

St. James, Eufaula, has been involved for the past year in an innovative ministry partnering low-income families seeking a better future with community volunteers from the middle class. A faith-based, multi-denominational outreach program, it is called Communities of Transformation (COT). Intentional and often unlikely friendships are developed, bridging the socioeconomic, cultural, and racial gaps that often divide us. Participants enter a safe, nurturing atmosphere filled with hope. There they learn skills that enable them to work toward a more stable future for themselves, developing goals and a pathway to a better life.

Rector Drake Whitelaw and the members of St. James have played important roles since the onset of the COT initiative. First, they offered the parish’s fellowship hall for the group’s weekly meetings. At the meetings meals are served to volunteers, participants, and their families. In addition, childcare is offered so participants can focus on learning and building relationships. Finally, several members of St. James serve as mentors to the participants and the Episcopal women and men have provided meals. The Eufaula COT group is now on its third class of helping participants.

Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, and Methodists have come together to teach the less fortunate how to fish instead of passing out fish to them. Communities of Transformation is an example of how different denominations and organizations are working together in Eufaula to better their community. The COT program is operating throughout the Central Gulf Coast in cities like Mobile, Dothan, and Brewton


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