Viola Solid Rock Assembly rocks community with caring
The Viola Solid Rock Assembly of God (VSRAG) is certainly working to make a difference in northern Arkansas as they work to partner with churches in surrounding counties to help improve the quality of life for the people they serve.
Earlier this month, the Convoy of Hope traveled to the church in Viola to hold a training for pastors and leaders who attended.
According to Joe Garner, pastor of the VSRAG, 16 churches from more than five counties were represented during the event.
“We distributed food products, paper goods, socks and other items to the churches that participated. This whole region essentially was represented there when it came to the churches,” Garner said.
When asked why the Convoy of Hope came to the area, Garner explained the organization had a program which focused on rural America.
“Convoy of Hope has a branch and they go everywhere but they have a branch called Rural Compassion for communities whose population is under 15,000. Most of the towns in Arkansas are under 20,000. Our state is rural,” Garner said. “I’ve been partnered with Rural Compassion for quite some time and when I got up here [after relocating from the Stuttgart area] the first thing I did was get plugged back in to where we can be a distribution hub.”
In addition to working toward building partnerships with area churches, Garner said his congregation seeks to serve the immediate area with a distribution held the second Saturday of each month.
“We go and get stuff from the Convoy and distribute it to the people. We distribute diapers and food and it’s free to people. There are no strings attached, no requirement guidelines. It’s anyone who needs it. It’s there. We’ve been doing that since October,” Garner said. “We started [distributing] diapers in December and we got connected with Diaper Bank of the Ozarks and so that allows us to do diapers. There is no type of requirement when it comes to finances or anything like that, but we can provide 50 diapers a month per child. If they [a parent] have two kids in diapers, we can provide them with 100 diapers. Any kind of diaper helps. It may not cover a month but it can cover for a few days or a week and so that can be huge in a person’s finances.”
Ultimately, Garner said the goal is to find ways to reach the community in tangible ways and meet the needs of the people where they are.
“We were able to give shoes in every student in grades K-12 at Viola and we did that back in November and that was through Convoy of Hope Rural Compassion and that’s kind of what we’ve and how we got plugged into the community. It took off,” Garner said.
As for future plans, Garner said he hopes to become a distribution point for the diaper bank and it would allow for the church to store and distribute diapers to other organizations who serve the area.
“We’re trying to become with the diapers especially a distribution point for the diaper bank. They want us to become a distribution hub where we bring in the diapers and then others come to get them to distribute on their own,” Garner said.
Other upcoming projects include a rabies clinic at the end of April, and an Easter event the second Saturday in April for children ages 0 to 12. The event will include Easter egg hunts, prize giveaways and more and will take place from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. There is a little paperwork and followup they have to do because it’s grant funded.
The VSRAG is located just west of Viola, approximately a half mile passed the school.