Paying it forward
Several years back Bless Miller found herself on hard times, having separated from her husband and having to move with her three children into a one-bedroom apartment in Bain Town – and having to rely on a church for assistance. She was taking home only $450 at the end of each month, and the rent for the apartment was $400.
“I made a promise to God that the minute I was in a position to help someone in hard times I would do so,” she said.
In January 2017 she began cooking and doling out food to children and the elderly in the Malcolm Allotment neighborhood as they passed.
She said it made her feel good to do it, and is why she’s continued to do it.
Miller started attending Fresh Anointing Prayer and Deliverance Ministry and also assisted persons in need at the church with groceries, but she said she had a desire to do more and expanded the outreach beyond the four walls of her church. She is now operating Abundantly Blessed Outreach, a non-denominational Christian-based organization at #494 Baillou Hill Road South.
“Our motive is to serve those members of society that are unfortunate among us,” said Miller. “Our main aim is to serve the community by helping the poor and downtrodden, mirroring the love of God towards mankind.”
The first time she gave out groceries, Miller prepared 100 bags of groceries to give away, at the cost of over $2,000 out of pocket.
But she said she quickly came to the realization that she was giving people what she thought they needed, but everybody’s needs are different, and she refocused her initiative.
“I wanted to come out of the box and not give what I think they need, but what they need,” she said. When she opened the outreach center in September she set it up in such a way that the groceries are on shelves, and people are allowed to shop for what they need based on what they qualify to receive.
Persons patronizing the center have to fill out an application form and show proof of how many children they have. Based on family size assistance is given. A mother of two qualifies for $25 in groceries. Assistance is also offered at $50 and $75 depending on family size. The assistance is given once a month, with distribution days three times a week – Monday, Friday and Saturday.
The initial program affords approved applicants three months of grocery assistance; thereafter a more detailed process is conducted.
The founder and organizer of Abundantly Blessed Outreach who is also an ordained minister said through the outreach she is able to feed the less fortunate, and wants people to know whatever denomination they worship at, they are welcome to seek assistance at Abundantly Blessed Outreach.
“There is no issue with what church you attend,” she said.
Through her outreach she has been able to assist others beyond just groceries, having presented persons in need with monetary assistance as well as scholarship assistance.
Miller says they are grateful and accountable for every dollar and item donated to the non-profit outreach.
“I’ve set up the ministry in a way that it has its own personal account and someone working in the outreach.”
While she ponies up out of pocket, she now has the added cost of rent, salary and having to continuously restock groceries. To date, excluding electricity payments, she said it costs approximately $2,000 a month to run the center, covering rent and salary for the office staff.
“People usually get worried about their donations because everyone wants to have an assurance that their money is in right hands to serve deserving people. At Abundantly Blessed Outreach, we have created a highly secure, trustworthy culture of accountability that provides details to our donors for every donation. Moreover, the best thing about our organization is that we are not like typical organizations that are only accepting donations in the form of cash or check, also accept groceries and other types of inventories to help deserving people,” said Miller.
She has retained her day job, but says she’s reduced her days to three days a week – with her two off days she says she runs around to prepare for distribution days.
Miller thanked all donors to date, and said she welcomed anyone willing to donate to a good cause. Financial assistance she said should be made to the Abundantly Blessed Outreach account at Commonwealth Bank, or items can be delivered to the outreach office.