Good Samaritan marks 2 years

Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2003

What some might pass off as coincidence, one North Kenai good Samaritan describes as God speaking to him.

Frank Wolaver was seeking a way to give back some of the blessings he had received.

After a life ruled by his addiction to drugs, Wolaver moved from southern California to Alaska in June 1996 and began attending services at North Kenai Chapel with a friend.

"I started looking for ways I could give back, and God started giving me ideas about this ministry," said Wolaver about the Good Samaritan Ministries he now directs for the needy of Nikiski and North Kenai.

That was two years ago.

On Saturday, the Good Samaritan Ministries will mark its anniversary.

"For two weeks, I was putting down these ideas on paper and then, one day, my pastor -- Brad Cason -- gave a sermon that touched on the same ideas.

"I talked to him afterward and, with the support of other members, I started this ministry," Wolaver said.

"Now God's got me ministering to people in the very hell hole I climbed out of."

Using the North Kenai Chapel as its base of operations, Good Samaritan Ministries reaches out to people in need by way of posters at main stops in Nikiski and North Kenai, magnetic signs attached to his car and referrals from Love INC and from other churches.

No need is too big or too small for Wolaver and his group of volunteers that now number 80, and come from most of the churches that dot the North Road.

The group has performed menial tasks such as mowing lawns and shoveling snow and has taken on greater challenges including furnace installation, providing temporary housing and arranging for one woman to acquire a car.

Wolaver has placed questionnaires in neighboring churches asking people if they are willing to donate time and abilities to serve those who are less fortunate.

"We ask what their skills are and what tools they have," he said.

Then those skills are matched up with people in need.

"By filling a need, it gives us a reason for being here," he said.

However, he also realized that often a need would be filled and the group would never hear from the person again.

"Now we have a visitation follow-up team. One of our volunteers isn't able to go out, but said she'd be happy to bake cookies, so when the visitation teams go out now, they take a plate of cookies to the person they're visiting," Wolaver said.

Robert and Jackie Booth compose one of the teams.

"He was hauling cabinets and wrecked his car. He was in the hospital with a hurt back," Wolaver said.

"We were called and we sent a couple of ladies there just to pray with him.

"His back was touched by God, and now Robert and Jackie are both on the visitation team," Wolaver said.

"We've made a half dozen visits since December," said Jackie Booth.

"It's hard to measure what we gain. It lifts us more than the people we visit," she said.

She said she and her husband were given a great blessing when her husband was injured and helpless, and they sought a way to give something back.

"We're not good with organized churches, but we met Frank and the Good Samaritans and found you don't have to look for big organizations or big activities. You can just do little things like these visits to get that feeling of joy," she said.

The Good Samaritans were told about an older couple in North Kenai that was trying to heat their home solely with a wood stove.

"They were only able to keep the immediate area near the stove warm," said Wolaver.

"They actually had a furnace and an oil tank, but they weren't installed."

Volunteers from Good Samaritans went to Phillip and Helen Gibbs' home and built a platform for the furnace, built a stand for the oil tank and installed duct work in the home.

"We had a used furnace for about a year, but we didn't know how to hook it up," said Helen Gibbs.

"They didn't charge us anything, and they're really nice people," she said.

"I was happy to get it done. Now the house is real warm."

Lisa Obert, who is disabled, was having severe car troubles a short time ago.

Her truck quit running and then a 1989 Shadow she bought "blew up" a month after she got it.

Though she is disabled, she is able to drive and needs a car to get to doctor's appointments, often in Anchorage.

"When I have to go up there, my son usually drives," Obert said.

Without a car, and having spent all the money she had saved to get the Shadow a month earlier, Obert turned to the Good Samaritans.

"I had seen one of their signs in Nikiski and an elderly friend of mine had called on them a few times.

"They not only got me a car, but now I go to church. It gave me hope. At church I have friends now, where I didn't have any before.

"The Good Samaritans are really good people," Obert said.

On the form Wolaver has placed in area churches he states, "God has given us the greatest gift of all in his son, Jesus Christ. We need to find ways to extend the loving hand of God."

"That's what it's all about," Wolaver said.

Good Samaritan Ministries can be reached by calling 252-6058.

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