Two young men were called by God to the same church in Philadelphia to help serve the community. These two men did not know that they would work so well together and it would feel like they had worked together before. These two men are Deacon Johnson and his right hand man Ryan Neal. Neal said:”When I first got here I met him (Deacon Johnson) and we just seemed to click.” These two men work together giving back to the community at Mount Airy Church of God located on the corner of Stenton Ave and Ogontz Ave. This is the church I visited with my group and we learned that these two men were brought together for a reason and that reason was to help out the community of Philadelphia who needed it most.
Deacon Johnson’s right hand man Ryan Neal first came to this church about 14 years ago and Johnson was not too far behind at 10 years ago. Both of these men were not necessarily looking to work together, but God had other plans for them. Neal said that whenever there was an event at the Church he would always side with Deacon Johnson and do whatever was asked of him to help out. Even though these two had never met, it had felt like they had been working with each other for years.
What exactly does Mt. Airy Church of God do to give back to the community? The church organizes many different events to give back. They do clothes drives, collecting warm clothes for those who need them in the winter. They do a monthly food drive, collecting various different types of food and produce and distributing to those who need it most in the area. However they do not just give out this food for free. “We give out the spiritual food before we give out the materials, you have to give them the Word” says Neal. They do not turn any person away either. If someone shows up and asks for food or clothes they are going to give them food or clothes. That is just how Mt. Airy Church of God works.
Mt. Airy Church has been involved in the La Salle LGU Easter Food Drive for the past two years now. Deacon Johnson did have an interesting story on how their first year in the Easter Food Drive. “Last year we were the last ones on the last, but La Salle could not get in touch with some of the people who were supposed to be receiving food so they said we could have all the food that was left on the truck. We were blessed.” This year was just as successful at Mt. Airy Church of God. Deacon Johnson said he really appreciated what La Salle was doing for the community and said that this year they really focused more on giving out healthier foods to the community.
When asked about who this food drive was impacting the most in the community, Deacon Johnson pointed towards an interesting group of people. Johnson said he believed this food drive was really benefiting the elderly. He said that since they have trouble getting out that it is harder for them to get to the grocery store and get the healthy foods and produce they need. With this food drive it makes it easier for them to get these healthy foods and it really has a big impact on that community. The elderly obviously were not the only ones in the community who benefit from this Easter Food Drive. This helps the community as a whole. In a community like this one it may be hard for people to afford the nutritious food they need and they may just settle for unhealthy foods like we heard Dr. Goldbacher say when she spoke to us. When Deacon Johnson and Ryan Neal were asked if they would be partaking in the Easter Food Drive for a third year they both responded emphatically with Yes!
Mt. Airy Church of God has also worked with the Exploring Nutrition program for the past couple years and especially enjoys their mission to make this a more healthy and happy community. Deacon Johnson does regret that he has not attended as many meetings with this program as he would like to, but definitely plans on continuing to be a part of it.
Mt. Airy Church of God was a very welcoming place to go to and it shows with their service to the community of Philadelphia. They are a big part of the La Salle Easter Food Drive and I am glad that they will be part of it again next year. The La Salle Easter Food Drive and Mt. Airy Church of God are certainly doing their parts on giving back to the community they live in. Deacon Johnson could not put this any better: “To be able to come together and work as a team and to be able to provide food for a larger part of the city is a great task.”