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Beth Woodrum and Chris Woodrum at Chris’s Coffee & Custard.

Members of Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church, Roanoke, presented over 60 gift cards to all teachers and staff at Mount Pleasant Elementary School earlier this year. Each year the church dedicates 100 percent of a special outreach offering to needs beyond the church family. Previous recipients have included global clean water initiatives and the Blue Ridge Women’s Center. This year, the church wanted to show appreciation for the efforts of workers at “the school across the street.”

“The church has a long history of working hand in hand with the school,” said the Rev. Robert Stutes, pastor. “We collect food for weekend backpack food ministry. We offer overflow parking spaces on special days. Volunteers have helped serve food at back to school nights and at fifth-grade graduation. Students from the school have done musical presentations at our community based senior adult group.” During the last year and a half, many of these hands-on efforts haven’t happened. The church decided to express its appreciation to staff members who have worked tirelessly and creatively during the pandemic.

Each staff person received a $25 gift card to Chris’s Coffee and Custard, a new area business which is itself a wonderful form of outreach. Chris’s opened in 2021 at a location in the old plant now known as Roanoke Industrial Center. Previously, there was no coffee shop serving this part of town. The business creates opportunities for gainful and meaningful employment for individuals with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. The business is named for Chris Woodrum, a young adult with Down’s Syndrome. He and his mom, Beth, developed the shop as a way to help bridge the gap between the community and the people with intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities who are integrating themselves in the workplace and everyday life – becoming more valued, accepted, and included in the local community.

Mount Pleasant continues to offer both onsite and online worship experiences. Go to the website (mpumc.church) or church Facebook page (@mpumcroanoke) for more information.

Stephanie Burris, Mount Pleasant Elementary School (MPES) assistant principal; Jenny Basham, Mount Pleasant UMC lay leader (and longtime teacher at MPES); Robert Stutes, MPUMC pastor; and Dana Stevens, MPES principal