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Edwards sowing a seed

For most people, the workday ends at five o’clock and they head home.

But Beth Edwards, the school coordinator and childcare worker at the Mended Reeds school in Rock Hill, sometimes hangs out longer.

She and the students can be found taking care of a garden of peppers, tomatoes, and watermelon. Or maybe planting flowers in front of the school or made something as simple as helping to mash potatoes in the facility’s kitchen.

She began working at the school in October 2003. She had gone back to college to finish up a degree and had depleted her funds. Although she had applied at several places, she hadn’t heard from anybody.

So, she prayed for someone to call her back and give her a job.

“Within half an hour of when I finished praying, Mended Reeds called,” Edwards said.

She said she enjoys her job and said it’s like being part of a big family.

“Hopefully, we give these kids something that they haven’t had before,” she said.

Mended Reeds is a small faith-based foster care and full-service adoption agency in Lawrence County.

“Most of the time when I volunteer my time, it’s to spend time with the children,” Edwards said. “I meet a requirement that I believe I have with God. I have talents that I can share with them.”

The garden was their big project this year and was used as a 4-H project. Their club was called G-Force, for God’s Force, and not only did they take their produce to the fair, they got to eat the fruits of their labor.

“Our harvest was big but it was more to it than that,” Edwards said. “I could use it as a way to get them to change their behavior or actions they are doing at the moment. Just because I spent time planting with them. I’ve built a relationship with them.”

The peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, butternut squash and cantaloupes were big hits with the kids. They got to eat stir-fry for lunch; they had the tomatoes and peppers as salsa and ate a feast of watermelon.

“We had one little picnic outside, they worked all day just so they could go out and sit on a blanket and eat a tomato with a little bit of salt,” she said. “It doesn’t take a whole lot. You just give them a little tiny bit and they give you a whole lot back.”

It isn’t always a big project that Edwards undertakes. Sometimes it is simple.

“Sometimes I just sit down and eat with them, just let them talk to me,” she said.

Edwards doesn’t see working extra hours with the students as a chore, rather she just considers it part of her family work ethic.

When asked how she balances work, family and volunteering, Edwards’ answer was “By the grace of God.”

“There is no other way I could get everything done,” she said.