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Pay cut puts man on path to help others

August 20, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Going from a six-figure sales job to a day laborer pool had an adverse effect on Brent Ward's family income.

But it put the Washington County man on a new path that led him to start Praise Unlimited Ministries, a nonprofit organization committed to enabling churches to help the poor consistently.

Sitting at a table in the ministries' rent-free warehouse in Greencastle, Pa., Ward was surrounded by donated refrigerators, freezers and crates loaded with donated food.

"When I was in the day labor pool in Hagerstown, I was working with the people who are the working poor and who had no church," Ward said.

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He began going to grocery stores, getting food and handing it out on Saturdays.

"These freezers and refrigerators used to be in our dining room at our home in Washington County," Ward said.

The move to one room at the warehouse was in 2007. Praise Unlimited now uses the entire building for food and, more recently, furniture and clothing.

"Pastors come here and pick up food and distribute it," Ward said. "We are just dabbling in furniture, but it is growing."

"I work day labor jobs and it's not enough to live on," said a 21-year-old man who lives with his girlfriend and two children.

The man, who asked that his name not be used, got some frozen chicken, breads, canned goods and a chair during a recent visit.

Ward said the ministries' goal is to encourage more churches to get involved with the poor on a daily basis.

He counts three churches in Washington County as his main supporters -- Boonsboro Bible Church, Good Shepherd Ministries and Foundations Family Church.

Ward said Food Lion in Greencastle, Pa., and Dutch Market in Hagerstown are his biggest suppliers of free food.

"We are a food pantry here, not a food bank," Ward said.

There are 200 families on the books but Ward said a lot more who come in aren't. All get what they need.

"I would rather be wrong and have people take advantage than not to do the work of Christ," he said.

The money for expenses comes from offerings when Ward and his family present two musicals, "The Outlaw" and "Stranger in the Crowd," at area churches. The musicals have been presented at Broadfording Bible Brethren Church, Faith Christian Fellowship near Williamsport and Hagerstown City Park.

Ward said he draws no salary from the ministries.

"We're living on faith," he said.

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