Service through the years

Violetta Bumpus, 92, has been a member of the women’s ministries group in Hillsdale, Mich., for more than 60 years.

“I have always liked to pack groceries for people at Christmas,” Violetta recalled. “And I enjoyed working with the toy drives, helping mothers pick out toys for their children. I did that for years.”

Jean Ankney and Phyllis Koontz prepare lunch at the Life Center in Hillsdale.

The women’s ministries group currently serves at the Hillsdale 360 Life Center which transitioned from a corps in 2022.

Captain Laura Lunnam, who along with her husband Captain Curtis Lunnam leads the corps in Adrian, Mich., is an administrator at the Life Center and a leader of the women’s group. She said the ministry focuses on education, fellowship, worship and service.

“Those ladies committed to keep the ministry going through the week,” the captain said. “They are right alongside the staff, keeping things going; helping to serve meals and working with the pantry and social services.”

Members serve lunch to about 150 diners four times a week at the Life Center. They take part in prayer meetings, provide baked goods and put together themed baskets for bidding at the community’s Harvest Festival, and help at the annual back-to-school event.

Violetta Bumpus, Dorothy Hartzell, Beverly Baxter, Phyllis Koontz and Jean Ankney deliver doughnuts to Hillsdale first responders on National Donut Day.

On National Donut Day in June, the ladies marched outside, like a small army, delivering boxes of doughnuts as tasty thank-you gifts to fire and police departments and the paramedics’ office.

“We had a chance to thank all of them. The first responders were so excited. And the doughnuts were delicious,” Captain Laura said.

“We also help at Christmastime with Toys for Tots, with bell ringing and getting things organized at the Life Center,” said Dorothy Hartzell, women’s ministries secretary, who has been part of the group for more than 30 years.

Pamela Cobb, director at the Life Center, said the group is a valuable asset.

“They bring a lot of joy to the community, and they bring a lot of energy and help us be as efficient as we are in serving the public. Without them, I don’t think we’d be as successful,” Pamela said.

Captain Laura Lunnam meets with members of the women’s ministries group.

“I was just 21 when I moved here,” Dorothy said. “The group had cooking classes, quilting classes— we have had people come in and talk to us about making wills. Throughout my lifetime, the majority of things I have learned, I have learned through this church and with this ladies’ group.”

Members help one another too.

Violetta has had to slow down in recent days, as it has become harder for her to walk. But she looks forward to the women’s ministries meetings and is picked up and driven to group activities by fellow-member, Dorothy.

“She is my oldest friend,” Violetta said fondly.

The women in the group are known by many people in the community, and they help wherever they are needed, Captain Laura said, adding, “They have truly become the hands and feet of Jesus there in Hillsdale County.”




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