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Extending a helping hand to those in need in the patch

Posted 11/20/13 (Wed)

Extending a helping hand to those in need in the patch

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Jim Konsor’s Bakken tale starts out like many. Jim moved here for work. From June to October of 2012, he drove a payloader in a scoria pit and lived in a trailer by himself because his wife had stayed back home. The fact that he was not from here only added to the solitary nature of his job. And at the end of the day, he missed his family.
But all Bakken stories eventually diverge and develop a life of their own. For Konsor, the ‘life’ his story took on was a vision for ministry in the Bakken.
Konsor, along with his wife, Kathy, the Dakota’s Conference of the United Methodist Church and a Bishop who lived in western North Dakota during the ’50s oil boom, began Bakken Oil Rush Ministries and created the ministry’s Mobile Thrift Center.
The Mobile Thrift Center, according to Konsor, is here to work with the community to help the people who need help.
“Not everyone who is coming here  is coming with money and education,” states Konsor. “Some people come looking for that ‘pot of gold’ and find that it is not what they expected.”
The Mobile Thrift Center is a renovated 29 foot travel trailer that is outfitted with removable shelves and coat racks. The Konsors’ hope is to use it to house warm coats, blankets, and heaters, among other items, for people in need. And the best part about it, according to the Konsors, is that it can go wherever the need is.
“We will be able to take the center to the Food Pantry, as well as to the RV and camper lots in the area,” states Konsor. “And, because it is mobile, we can take the items to the people who need them, where we would not be able to do that if we were only in a building.”
Recently, the Konsors did just that when they parked the Mobile Thrift Center in the parking lot of Cash Wise and Alco on Thursday, Nov. 14, from 1 to 6 p.m. for their first coat giveaway.
“We gave away roughly 80 to 90 coats and we still have more to give away,” states Konsor. “We were slower earlier in the day. Maybe we should have gone from 4 to 8 p.m., but this is a learning process. The most important thing is that a lot of people will be warm, that weren’t before coming to us.”
Konsor also states that he was able to give the Mobile Thrift Center a dry run at the Food Pantry on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
“There was one family who had stored their blankets under their trailer in a plastic container, and recently discovered that the container had taken on water,” states Konsor. “The blankets were full of mildew, and when we gave them four new blankets, you would have thought we had given her a million dollars.”
The Konsors state that the Mobile Thrift Center is just the beginning for the Bakken Oil Rush Ministry.
“We eventually hope to build a ministry center that will offer what the Mobile Thrift Center offers and more. But the concept also includes a space for people, specifically women, to gather - a space where people can come, get out of their box, relax, and feel safe. It will contain a kitchen, and serve meals for those who chose to gather there.
In the meantime, the Konsors and the United Methodist Church hope to get the ‘Gathering Place’ off the ground with the help of the Watford City Presbyterian Church. Konsor states that they have agreed to allow Bakken Oil Rush Ministries to use their facility to cook meals and offer a safe place where people in the oil field can go to get away.
On top of a ‘Gathering Place,’ the envisioned ministry center will include space for people in transition to sleep for two to four nights and to give them some time to get on their feet, find a job, and a more permanent situation.
But, because land is no easier to come by in the Bakken, than the things for which the Konsors have a vision, they have put the Ministry Center idea on hold until land and space become available. For now, they plan to continue serving the community through the Mobile Thrift Center and offering of the Gathering Place.
The Konsors are accepting items such as bedding, pillows, small appliances, pots and pans, dishes, cooking utensils, winter clothing, towels, warm socks and more.
“We prefer new or gently used items because we are trying to give people things that will help elevate them to the next level, instead of reinforce where they are,” states Konsor.
Donations can be left on the front porch of the Glory of the Lord Family Ministries Church in Watford City. Because the Mobile Thrift Center is mobile, information about the Mobile Thrift Center, such as a schedule or a list of acceptable donations can be found on their website: oilrushministries.com or their Facebook page: oil rush ministry.