September 12 was indeed a sunny day this year and there is a home on Metcalf Street in New Bern where sunshine is the forecast nearly every day. Sunny Shuptrine is the president of S.T.A.F.F. House Maternity Home Board of Directors and a constant source of humor, encouragement and inner as well as outer strength as she oversees the volunteers from several local churches and the community at large who show up to help renovate the group home. Lest I give a wrong impression with the term oversees, let me clarify. Sunny is never without a hammer, saw, electric sander, or rag in her hands as she performs the many small to large tasks involved in maintaining a schedule of both tearing out the old and building the new with an all volunteer force. She tirelessly works on site, responds to visitors wanting to see progress, visits businesses and churches to speak on behalf of the project and coordinates volunteers – though she will tell you that a higher power always comes through with the needed people-power and typically with just the right skill set for the day’s planned activities.
S.T.A.F.F. stands for Shepherds That Attend Father’s Flock, and is a nonprofit Christian organization that depends upon donations of funds, time, talent and building supplies to make the vision a reality. The Metcalf property was donated by Tabernacle Baptist Church and to date has had volunteers from the Marines, the Civitans and nine different churches. Four youth groups and four different denominations support the efforts of S.T.A.F.F. Thus far, the community has donated thousands of dollars worth of time/labor/materials and skills to fund the renovations, including new wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning as well as deep discounts on insulation, drywall and materials throughout. When done, the facility will replace a temporary residence donated in River Bend and will house five women and house parents.
Sunny is quick to point out that you don’t have to be a member of any church to volunteer your time and talent to the cause. All volunteers are welcome. This writer thinks the project is an ideal way for a small group of youth from local churches to get involved in what could be a life-changing endeavor. Or, garden clubs could volunteer to help with the landscaping and maintenance of the yard. There is a garden club member already in place to manage the replanting, landscaping and maintenance. Area service groups could provide a small group of volunteers on a Saturday. Local contractors, Courtney Custom Homes (New Bern) and John Kent (Greenville) oversee the project and thus far, several local businesses have provided workers for various phases of work. The most recent local business donated kitchen cabinets made in their facility, a savings of many person-hours of carpentry. Carpenters from Habitat’s Cabinet Shop will build the doors for the cabinets. Earlier this year a group of Marines began the demolition of the old porch and assisted with removal of plaster down to the studs! Any given day one might find a volunteer or two on hand!
Author: Ms. Sandra E. (Sandi) Wheeler