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New Volunteer Group “Gideon’s Army” is One Man’s Dream Come True

Gideon’s Army donates at Turning Point.

by Cheryl Hodges

Stepping out and following a dream can sound easy and sometimes even logical, but actually executing the steps necessary to make it happen is something else altogether. For Alex Hash, a difficult road helped the dream take shape, with the final push coming from a Virginia Western professor who asked Hash “why not now?”

`Hash’s dream has become real and it has a name: “Gideon’s Army Community Services.”  He is excited to spread the word and hopes others will join him in making his dream theirs as he works to undergird the needy among us. Gideon’s Army is “a new community services organization that will focus on giving the community opportunities to participate in volunteerism and community service … changing the world, one neighborhood at a time,” according to Hash.

The group has already sponsored two events, beginning this past December. Hash plans to host an event each month, with the intervening days devoted to gathering supplies and planning in order to best help the charitable organization they are working with.

The January event which Hash called “a great success,” benefitted Turning Point Domestic Violence Center, who received boxes of items Gideon’s Army had collected containing infant care items, laundry soap, hand sanitizer, towels, and more. They filled four large boxes and supplied pre-paid phone cards to pass out to all the residents. Hash is pleased that several area businesses and a school served as donation centers, including First Impressions Hair Salon, North Cross CAC, Mojai Boutique, Nappyheadz Hair Productions, and St. Matthew WOLF.  He says, “This is a perfect example of what we can accomplish when we work together.”

Originally from Winston-Salem NC, Hash’s life has taken several detours from what appeared early on to be a fast track to success. As a younger man, he “grew up in the church, was a good athlete,” but while stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas in 1986, he got the news that his brother had been murdered. Hash says “that sent me on a downward spiral – I was just lost. It took me about 10 years to get my life in order.”

Things eventually were looking up after that. He “was working at the railroad and my wife graduated from nursing school.” Then, when the recession came a couple years ago, he got laid off and “was a middle aged black man, unemployed.”  Hash, now 45, says he started a couple of businesses, ran a restaurant and tried all types of things as he struggled to get ahead. He was spinning his wheels until one morning, he had that epiphany moment as he was drinking his coffee, surfing the internet. He read the quote: “If you want to find yourself, lose yourself in the service of others.”

Hash says it was “like a light bulb went off in that moment; that’s what I was meant to do.” His own ministry began to take shape in his mind. He called on several trusted friends “who are my closest advisers and have been instrumental in making this organization successful.  My co directors are Chris Eural, Nathaniel Hash, and my treasurer and business advisor is Paul Mylott; these guys have been invaluable to me.”

He says many in his family are steeped in the Christian heritage, laying a foundation in Hash’s life that has led him to this point. There are family members who hold Doctors of Divinity, there are Bishops, and several Uncles who are church pastors, as well as his father, Dr. Charles Hash, who pastors St. Matthew Word of Life Fellowship here in Roanoke.

“People are struggling; right here in our community people are struggling, and I’ve always had the desire to help,” says Hash, who planned on trying to put something together when he finishes school. When he shared his thoughts with Professor Gaynor, one of his teachers at Virginia Western, Gaynor said, “Why not start now?” He realized this was a better plan and settled on the name Gideon’s Army Community Services, inspired by the small army that was able to win against a foe with much larger numbers. He sees part of the mission as helping those in need, and part as helping people in the community come together and reap the benefits of volunteering and being a part of something worthwhile as they minister to others.

Hash, father to seven children, sees heading up Gideon’s Army as a career down the road although “the more education I get, the more intrigued I am about counseling.”

As he looks to future volunteer meetings, Hash says “We are praying that conversations erupt and we get to know each other better and develop a family atmosphere, which will lead to us being able to service our community with a united voice.”

Next up for February:  Valentine’s Day party at Valley (Mental Health) Retirement on February 14 from 6 til 8 p.m. Anyone who wants to donate desserts please email [email protected] or call 540- 632-1251.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Keith, I am so proud of you. I know that this venture is the beginning of greater things to come. You have touched the heart of God by serving others. “If you want to find yourself, lose yourself in the service of others.”

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