PARMA, Ohio (WJW) — Living Waters Apostolic Church is pretty big, covering nearly 44,000-square-feet.
But the people behind it — the Staab family — make up a small group of only about six.
When the Rev. Michael Staab became the small church’s new pastor back in February, it started over with a new name, and as a “whole new work.” And it’s already giving to the community.
“Our whole goal, you want to be there for peoples’ spiritual needs, but it’s more than that,” said Staab’s daughter, Cassandra Bullard. “It’s the word. It’s sticking to the word, and it’s loving everybody, and that’s what we want to do. We want to be there for anyone we can be there for.”
One of the first things the family and new church did was organize a Blessings Pantry as the coronavirus pandemic hit. The pantry offers essential items like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and toilet paper for those in need.
It’s pretty small now, but the church hopes word will spread, and they’ll get donations to fill their pantry.
“We decided to start it after the pandemic hit,” said Bullard. “When people started losing their jobs and unemployment was going high, and we felt as a community we should all come together to reinvest in our community.”
And as a way to meet members of the community and to support local first responders, Living Waters is having a HEROS Thank You Cookout all day Friday. The event is out-of-pocket for the church.
It’s open to the entire community, lasting from noon through 10:30 p.m. There will be food for purchase and even an outdoor family movie on a big screen at 9 p.m. There’s plenty of room for social distancing, and there will be masks available.
The first meal for any first responder with an ID or wearing their uniform will be free. They’ll also get a free piece of pizza during the movie.
“I think everyone just kind of needs a break so that’s what we want to do,” said Bullard. “We want to give people that relaxation time to kind of be outdoors and have fun.”
Half of all proceeds will go to the police and fire departments in Parma and Parma Heights. Some of the remainder of the funds raised will help stock the Blessings Pantry.
“We wanted to get to know our community members and the people who serve us, ” Bullard said. “We wanted to honor the people who serve us in the community and we wanted to be able to give back in some way. As small as we are, it doesn’t matter how small or big you are, you can still do something to give back to the community.”
It’s been hard work for the family to get the church going, start a pantry and hold events. Bullard’s husband is a disabled veteran, and her mother, Sheila, has medical issues.
“My dad and I are like the muscle,” said Bullard.
But they want to show everyone with everything going on, “we just need to love each other,” said Bullard.
“You want to be there for peoples’ spiritual needs, but it’s more than that. It’s the word. It’s sticking to the word, and it’s loving everybody, and that’s what we want to do. We want to be there for anyone we can be there for.”
For more on the Blessings Pantry, click here. Cash donations can be mailed to the church, processed via credit card at the church or by texting GIVE to 440-538-1626. The church is also accepting donations of essential items.
For more on the HEROS Thank You Cookout, click here.