Hazel ParkJanuary 9, 2013
Church provides bed for man sacrificing for brother
By Andy Kozlowski
C & G Staff Writer
HAZEL PARK — CityEdge Church closed out last year with a series of good deeds. As a result of one of them, a Warren man now has a place to rest his head at night.
For some time now, Lawrence Graham has been taking care of his younger sibling, James Graham, bedridden with a thyroid condition. James’ medical bed is set up in the living room of their sparsely furnished home, but Lawrence had nowhere to sleep, himself; the bedroom is filled with boxes, and money is tight, so he had to make do sleeping upright in a chair each night. For at least a year and a half, he slept this way.
CityEdge Church found out about the Graham brothers’ situation while performing a free smoke-alarm inspection in their house.
“I was kind of taken back a bit,” said Lyle Hayman, of Hazel Park, church co-founder. “I had known these two guys for a little while, but I had never gone into the bedrooms. They said things were kind of tough, and they didn’t have any money, so I said, ‘Let me put this out to the church and see what God can do for you.’”
A call for help was posted on Facebook, and within a couple weeks, people were coming forward with donations: a mattress, box spring, bedframe, new pillow, new and used sheets and even a dresser.
One night last month, Hayman brought two young boys with him and delivered the goods by van to the Graham residence. The Grahams didn’t know what was coming.
Upon hearing the news, Lawrence — who was not available for comment — is said to have clapped his hands and exclaimed excitedly before running between the front door and the bedroom, clearing a path for the new bed and dresser, unsure what to do first, and thanking them repeatedly.
“I couldn’t tell if he was going to cry or not, but he was grinning ear to ear,” Hayman said. “The boys took away a couple lessons from that, like how little the brothers have, compared to them.”
Also last month, CityEdge made the journey out to Toms River, N.J., one of the towns hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. Their team also included members of Berkley Community Church. There were 18 people in all, including one man in his 80s who worked the full time just like everyone else.
“I don’t think anyone knew what to expect when we got there,” said Bill Trivett, of Clawson, an associate of CityEdge and one of the volunteers. “It was terrible.”
Debris was piled outside of the houses. Inside, there were marks from standing water that had risen up to 4 feet high, leaving lines on the walls and insulation. Much of the homes’ contents needed to be removed, floors included, and some houses had to be torn down completely; what was salvageable was dried and treated for mold. At points, the volunteers even had to go into flooded crawlspaces and pull out water-logged insulation.
“I just wanted to help out and be there for the people,” said Heidi Cleveland, of Hazel Park, another volunteer from CityEdge. “We would bring out toys and couches, and it was horrible — you could see in their faces that they were devastated, and you just kind of had to be there for them. You had to talk to them as you did the work.”
The group teamed up with Samaritan’s Purse, an international disaster-relief organization, to get the work done. The volunteers operated out of a local church called The Church of Grace and Peace, which provided them housing and meals.
The trip was paid for by a fundraiser CityEdge held called “Scrapping for Sandy,” where they put out a special Dumpster in the church lot to collect metal that they then sold to a local scrapyard. A sizable chunk of metal came from a man in Commerce Township who was cleaning out his house for a move to Texas.
“He knew what our cause was, and he was willing and ready to give to that,” said Pastor Craig Brundage, the church’s co-founder.
CityEdge, whose motto is “No perfect people allowed,” was established last April, when they started having Bible studies in Hayman’s backyard. Last September, they started meeting at the Methodist church.
A nondenominational Christian community, CityEdge is an outreach church focused on serving others. They’ve been painting playground equipment in city parks, and have also renovated the game room in the recreation center. They facilitate a teen drop-in there every fourth Friday of the month. They also helped save the patio project at the library and delivered Thanksgiving dinners to people in need.
CityEdge have more projects on the horizon that they will talk about soon. Volunteers will always be needed.
“I felt I could bring my experience and skills there,” Trivett said about the trip to Toms River. “It was an opportunity to help out.”
CityEdge Church meets at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday nights in the lower level of Hazel Park Methodist at 315 E. Nine Mile, across the street from the library. For more information, call (248) 765-4361 or visit www.thecityedge.org.