Radiant Fellowship Church is building community with home-cooked meals and pieces of gum.
This spring, the church started “The Rock,” which Rev. Bob Adams describes as a mobile humanitarian effort.
Once a week, the church uses its new, white van to deliver food, clothing and personal hygiene items to those in need.
The gum piece of the effort to build community is the Waupaca Gum Wall, which is set up behind the church’s parking lot, on Wisconsin Street.
“Both things are driven by building community,” said Adams.
“The Rock” began in May, after the church purchased the van.
Adams got the idea after a trip to Nashville, where a friend of his serves the homeless.
He returned to Waupaca and began to work on the idea here.
Sysco Foods is donating food, and the church is accepting donations of clothing and personal hygiene items for adults.
“Once a week, we go to the Waupaca Hotel and serve a hot meal,” Adams said. “We say, ‘It’s love with no agenda.’ We don’t preach at them. We serve them.”
There are 39 units for adults there, and Adams said children sometimes join family members for the meal.
The homemade meal is followed by conversation, and “The Rock” is also taking food and clothing to the homeless veterans who live in a shelter in King.
Adams said the meals are typically served on a Sunday or Monday evening, and the first meal was served on May 26.
Updates about the needs for the effort are posted at Facebook.com/RFtherock, and Adams said those interested in donating or serving may call him at 715-258-3005.
“The big need is men’s clothing, hygiene products and money to purchase what we need to add to the food donations,” he said.
Adams said they want to hear from others in the community and throughout the county about who needs visits and meals.
“We’re using it as a way to serve the community,” he said.
“The Rock” was chosen for the name of the program to symbolize a fish fighting the current every day, leading it to give up, according to Adams.
When the fish is able to get behind a rock, it finds rest and food and is then able to make progress.
The church believes there are many people fighting a current every day, and they have no rock to get behind.
Radiant Fellowship Church wants to be that rock.
Around the same time planning began for the effort, Amanda Wright was vacationing in Seattle.
Wright attends Radiant Fellowship and happened to discover Seattle’s Gum Wall during her time in the city.
“It was always on my bucket list to go to a gum wall. I knew there was one in California,” she said. “I was walking in the farmer’s market area, turned down Post Alley, and there were walls of colorful gum. There were all kinds of people posing.”
Wright did not have any gum with her that day.
She returned there on the final day of her trip after stopping at a Walgreens to purchase gum and glitter nail polish. Wright used her gum to create a heart, which she covered with the glitter polish.
Wright, who owns Amanda Cupcake, loves glitter and posted a picture of her gum wall art on her Facebook page.
Adams saw it and thought, “I think we need a wall in Waupaca.”
Heather Hayes, a sponsor of “The Rock” was asked to paint a wall, and it was unveiled on June 23.
A Facebook page was created at https://www.facebook.com/WaupacaGumWall, and within a day, the page had 130 “likes.”
Wright said the gum wall allows people to be quirky and to have fun.
“We built it here so it’s part of Radiant, but people from anywhere can come here,” she said.
The idea is simply to chew a piece of gum and then use it create a bit of art.
Adams smiled as he said they are not asking people to touch other people’s gum.
They just want to help people express themselves and to take a picture and check in on the Facebook page.
“It builds community, but it’s also like when you’re driving in Minnesota and say, ‘Let’s stop and see the largest ball of twine,'” Adams said.
Perhaps, the Waupaca Gum Wall will turn into a quirky experience as well.
“If it gets real full, we’ll add another panel,” he said.