Twenty-four community and church leaders gathered last week at Crossroads Baptist Church in Leesburg for breakfast to learn more about Tree of Life Ministries.
Executive Director Paul Smith stated that his encounter with poverty began in Manchester, England, but it was a trip to Gulfport, MS after Hurricane Katrina that changed his life. “I believe that God was telling me that there are people in need right where I live in Loudoun County,” he said.
Over the past decade, Tree of Life has expanded to provide food, lifeskills training, shelter, healthcare and relief to individuals and families through service hubs in Leesburg, Purcellville and Winchester.
“When a person comes in for food, they not only leave with food, but have been blessed with the ministry of presence,” said Jim Heigl, who serves as the food branch director of Tree of Life-Leesburg.
The Community Kitchen ministry serves a restaurant-style meal each Tuesday evening. “We desire to bring value to each individual, by serving them individually rather than having them stand in line for food,” said COO Wayne Ruckman.
Tree of Life served 16,000 individuals in need in 2018 and more than 50,000 since its inception in 2008.