Building with hope and joy in Bland County

Volunteers with a Georgia-based mission group and other local volunteers wrapped up work on Chi Chi Pauley’s new porch on Thursday. Photo: Jeffrey Simmons/Bland County Messenger
Volunteers with a Georgia-based mission group and other local volunteers wrapped up work on Chi Chi Pauley’s new porch on Thursday. Photo: Jeffrey Simmons/Bland County Messenger

Martha “Chi Chi” Pauley is a fixture in Bland. Known to locals as a kind character with a good heart, Pauley can usually be spotted making her rounds in town, chatting with fellow community members, who she often calls by affectionate nicknames.

“She’s kind of like the heart and soul of the community,” said the man Pauley calls “Pastor Boots.” “She’s just a joy everywhere she goes, she just brightens everybody’s day and everybody loves her. Chi Chi’s not hard to be nice to.”

That’s why when Pastor Boots, whose real name is Kevin Richardson, walked by Pauley’s home in mid-March and noticed her porch in disrepair, he decided then and there it was going to be fixed.

Richardson didn’t know at the time how he would make the project come together. He had a Lowe’s credit card and knew how to use it, he said, but didn’t have the skill to build a porch.

Before he could think about all that, though, he had to first get Pauley to agree to let him do it. A proud and independent woman, Pauley likes to get things done herself.

“I looked at her Sunday after service and I said, ‘I would like for you to let your pastor do something for you,’ and she said, ‘what’s that?’”

Surprisingly, Richardson said, the usually resistant Pauley said “OK” to letting him fix her porch.

“That was the easiest ‘yes’ I think we’ve ever gotten out of her,” Richardson joked.

Richardson told the congregations at the three churches in his Methodist charge about his plan. He’d intended to finance the project himself, but donations for Pauley’s new porch began to pour in and the congregations soon collected more than enough money to cover the project.

“It happened kind of mechanically, we went from having no clue to everything falling into place.”

Richardson discovered he had expert builders in his congregation and soon learned that the Bland Ministry Center also had a mission group coming in early April.

The mission group and other volunteers wrapped up the project on Thursday. It took just four days to complete. Enough money was collected to rebuild Pauley’s originally uncovered porch and add a roof to it. To garnish the newly built porch, Richardson and his wife donated an extra porch glider they had to Pauley.

“The Lord did bless me,” Pauley said. “I couldn’t believe it. I just praised the Lord.”

Richardson said enough funds were left still to tackle Pauley’s back porch later this year. He hopes to see that project finished before he is transferred to a new charge in June.

excerpt from an article by Jasmine Dent Franks| Staff | SWVA Today

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the World Service Fund is the financial lifeline to a long list of Christian mission and ministry throughout the denomination. Through the Four Areas of Focus churches are Engaging in ministry with the poor with their communities in ways that are transformative.