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Good News Fridays: April Lafollette Is An Alabama Bright Light In Calhoun County

Welcome to Good News Fridays. Each week, this post features something good, wholesome, positive, and overall something great. We all need something good to read or watch on Fridays!

Post by Karim Shamsi-Basha from Alabama NewsCenter

Interfaith Ministries Executive Director April Lafollette may have a staff of six employees in Anniston but the ministry thrives through more than 300 volunteers.

“We see our mission not just to serve people in need, but to pull those folks together who are looking to serve others,” Lafollette said. “On paper, it shouldn’t have worked, but it has worked. We have been here in Calhoun County since 1975. We help folks through multiple programs.”

Some of the programs include Meals on Wheels, one of the most well-known efforts of Interfaith Ministries. There are many other programs.

“We deliver Meals on Wheels five days a week and about 100 meals a day,” Lafollette said. “Then we have a dental clinic for adults with no insurance, and a community garden where they can have their own harvest. We also have an assistance program during Christmas for low-income families called ‘Christmas Clearinghouse.’ Another program deals with the lack of shelter for the homeless. We offer a hospitality program where they can spend the day, shower, eat and rest. We have a long-term prescription program. Another program is the Emergency Assistance Program for folks who are facing a crisis of any kind.”

To accomplish the plethora of programs Interfaith Ministries offers in Calhoun County, Lafollette depends on the generosity of corporations and organizations, such as the Alabama Power Foundation.

“We are so thankful for the Alabama Power Foundation, not just because they support us financially, but they have been a big investor in our programs,” Lafollette said. “Their employees come in and do things for us. A few linemen with Alabama Power built ramps so the folks could enter their homes safely. They purchased all the wood and did it all.”

The Alabama Power Foundation has been a key supporter of the dental clinic Interfaith Ministries offers, which serves many Calhoun County residents.

“Through the Elevate Grant, we were able to purchase medical chairs and a mobile unit for the dental clinic. This clinic serves folks including the inmates in the county jail. When the Alabama Power Foundation helped us with the dental clinic, they made the investment in the whole community,” Lafollette said.

Like other nonprofits, the pandemic has affected the work of Lafollette and Interfaith Ministries.

“We still served the same number of people but in a different way. We went to a contactless delivery for our Meals on Wheels clients. We purchased a cooler for every house, and all the meals were in boxes,” Lafollette said. “So we have streamlined the way we do things. We are actually serving more people than before. We have seen the needs rise since COVID-19.”

Lafollette, her staff and volunteers make sure they serve everyone possible.

“When we advocate for people, we do it for everyone,” she said. “We help people of all colors and all faiths and for the greater good, all of those people who lack the resources regardless of race or any other label. We all want to be the best for our community.”

Lafollette sees her work as a mission: “I do what I do because I feel it’s what I’m called to do,” she said. “I can’t imagine not being here helping people make a difference in their life.

“As sad as some days are because you just can’t help everyone, but for those few that you do, it’s very powerful, very powerful,” she said.

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