With her home receiving a new lease on life, Faye Quartey was overwhelmed with emotion Thursday as the unforeseen gift came to fruition.
After being in disrepair for a year, her den was rebuilt by SPLASH Bartow volunteers last week. The Cartersville 60-year-old expressed her thanks, calling the young volunteers “godsends” as the sound of power tools and Christian music enveloped her property.
“My mom built this house when I was 12, but I moved away after high school,” Quartey said. “My mom took sick three years ago, and I had to come home. [God] gave me three months with her. So I’ve been here three years now. I have COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] and bronchitis and asthma. I couldn’t go into that room, because something was making me sick when I would be down there. I started tearing the wall down. [I] thought I could fix it myself, figure out myself what was wrong. Once I pulled it down, there was a lot of mold there. It was raining behind there, so I just closed it off.
“... [Their work will mean] I can actually sit down there and be able to breathe. As you can see, I’m on oxygen. ... It is a blessing. I love you,” she told a pair of student volunteers. “You’re a godsend, you really are. You’re a godsend. I think sometimes the reason why everyone was busy, and they couldn’t [help before was] ... God had a different plan. That’s the only thing I can think of. God knew what was coming down the pike. He had SPLASH in place that I didn’t know about until someone at Tallatoona [CAP] told me about it. So I thank God for the program. I thank God for the SPLASH young ladies and men that are out there working with us. It’s just a blessing.”
The 12 youth assisting at Quartey’s residence were among 400 middle- and high-school students participating in SPLASH — an acronym for Show People Love and Share Him — Bartow Tuesday through Friday. Along with conducting Backyard Bible Clubs, the in-county mission work included visiting assisted living facilities, and performing housekeeping, construction and yard maintenance tasks at residences and nonprofits.
Initially planning to complete the project herself, Quartey’s construction funds were depleted due to her ongoing medical expenses. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, she currently is waiting to hear if her disease has metastasized. Along with seeing her house transformed, Quartey said one of the most touching moments of the past week was praying with SPLASH volunteers after returning from a doctor’s appointment.
“They were getting ready to leave, and one of them asked how I was doing,” Quartey said. “I said, ‘Just pray for me, keep me in your prayers.’ He said, ‘Well, we’re getting ready to pray now.’ It was so beautiful. They got in a circle, and three of the students prayed. It was so beautiful to end the day like that.”
Celebrating its 10th year, SPLASH Bartow initially was spearheaded in 2008 by Bartow Baptist Association’s associational missionary, the Rev. David Franklin. Since its inception, SPLASH has attracted 3,400 student volunteers participating in more than 950 projects.
“We would have never dreamed that it would have turned into something so big and touched so many people’s lives,” said Franklin, who serves as SPLASH Bartow’s director. “It’s really fun to see these kids that were in SPLASH come back and serve in SPLASH. Some of them now are married and have babies. ... [It is] fun to see kids grow into adulthood and continue to serve.
“... The first week that I took a job here in November 2007, three people said the same thing to me independently and all three of them described SPLASH. They said, ‘We wish our teenagers could do something local.’ So in December, I had a meeting with student ministers and floated that idea. They were like, ‘Yes, let’s do that.’ So in January 2008, we decided, we’re going to do this. ... That first year, we had 158 kids on 38 different projects, and they came from 18 different churches. This year, we will have 400 students, and they will be on 100-plus projects,” he said, adding the number of churches and adult volunteers supporting the effort has grown tremendously to 36 and 350, respectively.
Inspiring students to assist others beyond the mission event, SPLASH Bartow is marking its 10th year by encouraging youth to “leave a mark.”
“The purpose of SPLASH is to mobilize teenagers and adults to serve their local community,” Franklin said. “In the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, the emphasis was on overseas [missions], and we neglected America. So there’s a movement of God now to say, we’ve got to make sure we [conduct missions] here, not just overseas.
“... [This year’s] theme is leave a mark. Roman numeral 10 is an ‘X,’ so we’re [asking] these kids for the next 10 minutes, the next 10 hours, the next 10 days, the next 10 weeks, the next 10 years, what are you going to do to leave a mark? ... We want them to decide during SPLASH that they’re going to do something more than live for themselves, that they’re going to live for God. They’re going to do something positive in this world to leave a mark.”
Serving this year as a team leader with Quartey’s construction project, Victoria Dabbs embraced the opportunity to continue her SPLASH Bartow experience. A sophomore at the University of West Georgia, the Cartersville 19-year-old joined the in-county mission effort when she was a junior at Woodland High School.
“I like volunteering and helping and learning and hearing stories about everybody that you help,” Dabbs said. “This is my first construction project. [In the past], we [visited] the nursing home, [conducted a] Backyard Bible Club, and then last year, I did a sports camp at LakePoint. [At the nursing home, we] went around to all the rooms and met the residents that couldn’t come out. That was really touching... They just cried, because they were so happy that someone came [to] see them. ... Most of them, either their family doesn’t live here or they just don’t care.
“... [Ms. Quartey] is really inspiring. ... Even through all the hard stuff she’s dealing with every day, [she] has the strength to get up even though she probably doesn’t want to most days. It makes me thankful that I am able to come help her do this.”
Even though SPLASH originated in Bartow, the mission effort has inspired spinoff offerings in other areas, such as Macon, Carrollton, West Virginia, Texas, Tennessee and the Caribbean.
“It’s really humbling to see that other communities have heard about SPLASH and have started doing things like [this],” Franklin said. “A lot of folks have started picking up [the concept] and [are] saying we can do something locally together. I think that’s probably the biggest thing. Communities are starting to say, we — the body of Christ — can work together, and we can do something local to make a difference in our own community.”
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