Ever since he was a child, Zack Gowen has admired the Rev. Wright Culpepper, the executive director of FaithWorks in Brunswick.
That’s because the umbrella charity organization that Culpepper pilots lends a hand to a multitude of needy individuals in a variety of ways.
And as owner of the Georgia Sea Grill and Locos restaurants on St. Simons Island, Gowen has been in a position to help out at times with Culpepper’s efforts — particularly with The Well day shelter for the homeless and the Sparrow’s Nest food pantry.
“(Culpepper) is a man of his word,” Gowen said. “I believe that their charities and events that they have organized are not only great for our area, but shows the true meaning of practicing what you preach.”
Most recently, Gowen’s restaurants joined with 17 other businesses, including eateries as well as clothing stores, for a FaithWorks fundraiser. Many donated a portion of proceeds collected to the charity. Businesses also collected items for the food pantry.
The event was held in memory of Boz Bostock, who owned Gnat’s Landing and Bubba Garcia’s in Redfern Village on St. Simons Island before his death in June 2013.
For his part, Culpepper is humbled by all of the support. Among those taking part was Bostock’s widow, Mary Bostock.
“People have been very generous to us this summer,” Culpepper said. “Mary Bostock has been doing a thing all week in memory of Boz. A lot of businesses donated money to us and we have been very grateful to be the beneficiary of that effort.
“Several people have donated to us instead of receiving gifts for their birthday. It’s really nice to see people coming up with creative ways of trying to help others.”
But even with the aid, the need remains. Culpepper says that in the past week they have given out more than $2,000 in financial assistance to those who asked for help. Culpepper says these are instances where families hit on hard times due to an accident or unforeseen circumstances.
“Two thousand dollars in a week — that’s fairly typical in terms of what happens (at FaithWorks),” Culpepper said. “I think it highlights the fact that people get caught in crunches. It’s not necessarily that we’ve got an awful lot of people in desperate shape but many find themselves in difficult situations.
“Most of this money helps with utility assistance. Generally we only help those with cutoff notices when something has happened like an accident or illness that’s interrupted their normal cash flow. It’s not for people who are chronically behind the ball.”
That’s one reason that unspecified donations come in handy. Culpepper says that those who are kind enough to give money have the option of earmarking it for one of the many elements within the charity — the food pantry, The Well or general funds. He often urges donors to opt for the general fund, since that allows them to use the money for whatever is most needed at the time.
“It’s really great to have some flexibility with the contributions,” Culpepper said. “We’ve helped over 300 homeless who have come to the Well since we opened in March and we’ve helped many of them get back with family or get their medications or find housing. The funds really help with things like that.”
Another fundraising effort is on the horizon for the organization as well. That event, Celebrating Service, will happen at the Jekyll Island Convention Center on Sept. 10.
“We would love to have anyone interested come to our event in September,” Culpepper said. “It’s going to be a super event where we’ll be sharing information about FaithWorks. There will be a silent auction too. It’s a fundraiser but no one is obligated to pay. You just need to register by going to our Facebook page.”
For more information on how you can help, call FaithWorks at 261-8512