By Stefanie Jackson – Serving Together is the name of the new Northampton County organization started under the leadership of the Rev. Russell Goodrich, of Cape Charles, with the mission of making connections and bringing hope to life within the community.
“Dream big” was Goodrich’s advice for the new group.
“We dreamed big back in January and look what happened,” he said.
He was referring to a meeting held in January 2019 that gave birth to the initiative to build a Northampton County YMCA.
A little more than a year later, the $4.5 million project was almost fully funded.
The meeting of 20 state and local church and community leaders was facilitated by the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV).
Several of the community leaders who attended the meeting became part of Serving Together’s nine-member advisory team (which was originally formed with 12 members).
The team identified six areas needing improvement in Northampton County: education, employment, housing, healthcare, church and spiritual involvement, and recreation.
The idea to build a YMCA was inspired by the need for more recreation and other activities.
The story began when Goodrich was approached by BGAV about bringing Impact Virginia – a summer youth mission program for repairing and renovating homes of families in need – to the Eastern Shore for the ministry’s 25th anniversary.
Goodrich agreed with the BGVA proposal under the condition that Impact Virginia would be “intentional and strategic” about helping Northampton. Impact Virginia made a five-year commitment to the county.BGAV also volunteered to help arrange and conduct the January 2019 meeting of individuals chosen by BGAV and Goodrich.
Each of the current nine team members has made a three-year commitment to Serving Together.
The group will work similarly to an umbrella organization, helping local churches and organizations coordinate their efforts to make Northampton County a better place to live.
The team members were recognized at a church and community banquet at the Oyster Farm in Cape Charles Feb. 22., where Goodrich and Dean Miller, mission development staff coordinator for BGAV, discussed Serving Together’s mission to pray, continue to meet, form new teams, and keep an “open line” to hear from the community.
“This is not a Baptist movement or just a faith community effort … it’s everybody working together,” Goodrich said.