FLINT (WJRT) - (07/27/16) - A couple years ago, pastors from two different faiths came together for a common cause - improving a Flint neighborhood.
This summer, about 175 volunteers working this summer have beautified a park and so much more in Civic Park.
"We saw each other one day, and introduced ourselves, and years down the road, we've formed a deep partnership and friendship,” said Matt Soulia, co-founder of Forge Flint and lead pastor at West Flint Church of the Nazarene.
Soulia met Pastor Robert McCathern, who started Joy Tabernacle Church about three years ago. Since then, their lives have been intertwined, improving the Civic Park Neighborhood.
"The mission of God, what God is doing in the world to restore the world, to make all things new and bring hope to communities, is that commonality we find together,” Soulia said.
"We’re just so excited of what God is doing and all the partners that have come to help us,” McCathern said.
For the past few years, Soulia has brought hundreds of volunteers from across the Midwest to Civic Park. They work on beautifying abandoned homes, mowing overgrown lawns on vacant lots, and this year, the park.
McCathern says it's helped transform the area.
"So we're excited for Civic Park again, it makes us feel as though our efforts have not been in vain. It's bringing so much pride back into the neighborhood,” he said.
For the volunteers who come to help out, it's eye opening.
We spoke to one woman from Grand Rapids - it’s her first time in Flint. The city's been on her mind a lot since hearing about the water emergency.
"It’s heartbreaking to think that this isn't over for the people of Flint and I don't want us to forget about it. I want us to go back and say, ‘Hey, there's more that we can do and contribute here.’ The people that we've met have just been amazing and so thankful for us shoveling dirt and getting it out of the way so we can use the sidewalks,” said Melody Edwards, a volunteer.