Posted: Sunday, November 15, 2015 8:08 pm | Updated: 2:01 pm, Mon Nov 16, 2015.
By Cheryl Mattix firstname.lastname@example.org
EARLEVILLE — Joy and gratitude took center stage Saturday afternoon as residents and supporters gathered at Clairvaux Farm to dedicate an education building aimed at changing lives of families in the community who face homelessness.
The newly dedicated education center has been a long time coming for Deep Roots at Clairvaux Farm. Deep Roots took over the 20-acre farm in January 2014 after previous owner Meeting Ground put it up for sale, changing its own mission to focus on helping homeless adults transition to permanent housing and jobs.
Deep Roots, a nonprofit, focuses its mission on children and their families and is run by a board of directors and supporters, many of whom had witnessed homelessness themselves as children at Meeting Ground.
A spiritual gathering in the chapel at Clairvaux Farm was punctuated Saturday by a talk from former U.S. Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest and several personal success stories from residents and former residents.
“There’s no truer essence of what God wants us to do but to reach out and help another person,” Gilchrest said.
Gilchrest, who has been a longtime supporter of the mission at Clairvaux Farm, commended Deep Roots for instilling values in children.
“If children can learn strong values, they’ll be able to carry them throughout their lives,” he said. “There’s nothing more important than to teach a child to love, trust and have confidence.”
Ed Oceanic, president of Deep Roots at Clairvaux Farm, thanked supporters and volunteers for getting the building done and for believing in the mission.
“It’s taken a lot of work and a lot of love during almost two years,” he said. “Today, we are housing 10 families with 20 children.”
In the first eight months of 2015, Deep Roots has helped 20 families, enabling 12 families to move on to permanent homes in the community.
When Deep Roots took over the farm, many of the buildings had fallen in disrepair and the future education building was just a shell.
Now they’ve been able to renovate all the residence buildings and finish the interior of the education building, which will be called the LIFE Center (Learning Involves Formative Experience).
The hope of the board of directors is to be able to provide homework help in the education building through a partnership with Bohemia Manor High School, as well as other educational experiences, such as teaching the children to cook and grow their own food in a large garden near the building.
“An educated, loved and mentored child won’t become a homeless adult,” Oceanic said.
Clairvaux Farm Manager John Harris thanked donors and supporters who attended the dedication.
“This building will change some lives,” Harris said.
The Rev. Carl Mazza, who started Meeting Ground more than 30 years ago, remains involved in Deep Roots and its mission to help homeless children.
“Today, we’re not really dedicating a building,” he said. “We’re dedicating ourselves to the great task of helping our children. We have to work together to finish this mission.”