PC native leads mission team to county
Franklin County native Cherri Trantham has been living in Missouri for the past four years, but after living in Spruce Pine for 30 years prior, she still considers Franklin County to be home.
The events of April 27, 2011, have weighed heavily on Trantham’s heart, especially since she couldn’t physically be there in the days following the disaster to help her friends and neighbors pick up the pieces.
“Our local news station made mention that day that there was a tornado warning in Franklin County,” she said. “I didn’t think a whole lot about it because I’m 34 and whenever there was a tornado warning, nothing ever came out of it.
“I still thought I’d call my family and see if everything was okay, but I couldn’t get up with them. My husband finally called me and said he had gotten up with my dad and he said Phil Campbell was gone.”
Trantham said when she got home she stayed on the phone for hours trying to find out if her family and friends had survived.
“I knew some who had passed away, but I couldn’t get home for their funerals,” she said. “I decided to make a memorial in my yard with a Phil Campbell Bobcats sign and other things to deal with the grief. Phil Campbell is small and everyone knows everyone so it was hard.”
Trantham said in the months to come she prayed about a way she could help.
“I have a friend from Phil Campbell who told me she was thinking about moving to Missouri because there was just more help up here for people needing food and clothes and shelter,” Trantham said. “I knew people needed help in Phil Campbell and I wanted to be able to help them get the things they needed.”
Trantham said she told her friend, Darlene Morgan, about the situation in Phil Campbell. Morgan already had a ministry called Love Serving God that offered a food pantry, transportation services and other aid to those in need.
“We talked about adding a homeless shelter to her ministry and making it bigger, so we just merged all the ideas together and came up with our current ministry Love Serving God Haven Center,” she said.
Trantham said the ministry team at Love Serving God Have Center started planning a relief trip to Phil Campbell and she came down in March to see what needs were not being met.
“I talked with several victims to see where they were in the recovery process and what they needed,” she said. “While I was there, someone told me I should go see the people at Ground Zero Rescue Mission in downtown Phil Campbell because they had a similar ministry to ours.”
Trantham said she visited Ground Zero Rescue Mission, which is a faith-based organization that has been in the area since 2010 in downtown Phil Campbell that has a thrift store and a homeless shelter.
After her visit, she got in touch with the organization’s founder, Mary Shelnutt, and started talking about ways their two groups could join forces to help out in the community.
This past weekend, the Love Serving God Haven Center ministry team came down to help Ground Zero with the things they were already doing in the community.
“We helped them separate clothing and donations, we helped with a fundraiser they had at Jack’s and we stayed at their homeless shelter in Spruce Pine, which is a really great place,” she said. “We really learned a lot of things we hope to take back with us to apply to our ministry like the friendly, small-town feel I’ve always loved.”
Trantham said they hoped to come back to Phil Campbell in June to help out even more at Ground Zero.
“The basis of our ministry and the ministry for Ground Zero is really just found in Matthew 25 when Jesus said ‘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.’ And the righteous asked him, ‘When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? And a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?’ and he said that what you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“We just hope to keep doing that and even though Love Serving God Have Center can’t be there all the time, Ground Zero can help.”
To contact Ground Zero Rescue Missions, call Shelnutt at 205-546-0572 or visit their location at 3471 Broad St. in Phil Campbell.