Impact Suffolk dissolves

Published 9:57 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A faith-based organization in Suffolk officially dissolved earlier this month after 22 years of serving the community.

Impact Suffolk didn’t have enough resources coming in to pay the bills of the ministry, such as state licensure and website maintenance, president Win Anderson said on Tuesday.

It was also suffering from too few people willing to help administer it, and the few who were left felt the ministry’s main event, a food giveaway on the weekend before Thanksgiving, could be accomplished outside of having a formal ministry.

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“We’ve been talking about it for the last year based on the amount of attendance at administration meetings,” Anderson said. “We just haven’t had anybody showing up to do the work of the ministry.”

Impact Suffolk started 22 years ago as a cooperative effort of local churches and businesses. Lately, about 30 churches and 14 businesses have been involved.

The ministry was best known for its food giveaway at the park behind the North Main Street Farm Fresh on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It also held the March for Jesus in downtown before that was discontinued a few years ago. It hosted the “Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames” drama several times and held the Suffolk Summer Slam event, featuring contemporary Christian music, a couple of times at local parks.

“The resources needed to keep Impact Suffolk solvent just don’t exist,” Anderson said Tuesday. “We have no money. There are no financial resources coming into Impact Suffolk whatsoever.”

Anderson said the group never had a surplus of money but always was able to cover its expenses.

“It did always seem like no matter what would happen, some funding would always come through,” he said. “Every year, we’d always have enough turkeys.”

Anderson said the concern he and the rest of the three-person board had when deciding to dissolve the organization was the annual food giveaway. Hundreds of people would line up every year to get turkeys and cans and boxes of sides for Thanksgiving dinner. Each church would bring a different item; some collected cans of corn, for instance, while others collected boxes of stuffing.

Anderson said the leadership feels passionate about the food giveaway continuing.

“It’s entirely up to those organizations to figure out a way to organize themselves and connect with the community,” Anderson said of the churches and businesses that have participated in the past. “They can gather themselves together to fund some kind of organizational process among themselves to continue the food giveaway.”

Anderson also mentioned that other entities in Suffolk, such as businessman LeOtis Williams’ annual giveaway, do the same thing, even on the same day.

Anderson said he is grateful to the individuals, churches and other entities that have been involved over the years.

“We just thank everybody that’s been involved for the last 22 years,” he said. “We’re blessed to have been able to participate in such an incredible outreach.”

Dot Dalton, who was among the founders and leaders of Impact Suffolk for many years, said the ministry affected Suffolk positively in its 22 years.

“I think it did a lot for the city, and I think God used it in many ways,” she said. “To God be the glory.”