Three members of the Gadsden State Community College Cardinal Tennis Team led by example when they volunteered with Marshall County Homeless Ministries.
The program, known as Room in the Inn, organizes a cooperative of churches to provide emergency temporary shelter for people without homes. Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church in Albertville is one of those churches.
“We don’t call them ‘homeless,’” said Taylor Stewart, the minister of students at Grace Fellowship and a volunteer coach of the Cardinal Tennis Team. “We call them ‘neighbors.’ Every church that participates in Room in the Inn hosts the neighbors once a month overnight during cold weather months.”
Earlier this month, Stewart was joined at Grace Fellowship by three tennis players, Kyle Cavender of Arab, Jacob McAllister and Kevin Triplett, both of Guntersville.
“It was a wonderful experience,” Stewart said. “Volunteers and neighbors bonded through playing cards, playing basketball, listening to live music and, most importantly, spending time talking, sharing and getting to know one another. Our three sophomore players quickly found that they had much in common with the neighbors.”
McAllister said many of those utilizing Room in the Inn services were former athletes, aspiring musicians and hard workers down on their luck.
“They were so grateful to have a hot meal and a warm place to stay on a cold night,” he said. “I had an excellent time. You wouldn’t know these people were going through tough times with the smiles on their faces.”
Tennis Coach Buster Stewart is proud of the players for volunteering their time.
“These teammates on the court are also teammates off the court,” he said. “They understand and believe that what they do off the court ultimately matters more than what they do on the court. As captains of our tennis team, they are leading by example. They are seeking to set a standard of excellence. They don’t just receive, they give, and they do it together.”
Coach Stewart said the success of this year’s team won’t ultimately be measured by their win-loss record but what kind of men these Cardinals become.
“This year’s team has a chance to be a special one, on the court and beyond,” he said. “With the leadership of these captains, the future looks bright.”
The Cardinal Tennis Team will start its season Feb. 5 with matches at Shorter University. Their first home match will be March 10 against Faulkner State.
For more information about Marshall County Homeless Ministries, call 256-677-9231 or visit their Facebook page.