Lily church opens its doors as shelter for those without power

LILY — A church in Lily is offering a warm place for those looking to seek shelter from the cold.

Thousands of Tri-County families were left without power after a snow and ice storm came through the area and Restoration Ministries of Southeast Kentucky, located in Lily, is offering to help.

“The whole concept of our church is more outreach instead of in-reach,” said Pastor Ronnie Smith. “This is what we feel like our purpose is—to be a missionary to our communities.”

Restoration Ministries, located within the old Lily school, has 14 classrooms each with their own gas heating systems, a large youth room with several couches, restrooms and gas stoves, as well, and is offering community members to come stay as long as they need.

“I was just looking around and thinking about how many people were hurting and even my electricity went out, we didn’t have electricity last night, so I talked to a couple of men in the church and said ‘hey, why don’t we just open up our church,’” Smith said. “Even if the electric goes out, we’ve got gas heat and we can still help out families.”

Eli Emery, member of Restoration Ministries, stepped up to stay up overnight and answer the phones to help get families in from the cold.

“Obviously, we don’t have hotel rooms for everybody and we’re scrambling to get bedding and things like that,” Smith said. “We even tell people if they want to bring their own covers and pillows and all that, that’s fine. Basically what we’ll do is we’ll take a classroom and turn that into a hotel room that way a family can stay together because families don’t want to be in a big room with 15 people or anything like that, that way they can lock the door and shut the door and have some privacy.”

Though Smith said the church does have plenty of food, people are welcome to bring their own food and bedding with them but the church will provide anything they don’t have or aren’t able to bring along with them.

“If they don’t have something, we’ll have it and if we don’t have it, we’ll get it,” Smith said.

Smith said some families have already came to stay while others have come and went to get food and other necessities.

If all the rooms were to get filled up, Smith said the church also has a gymnasium with gas heat that can be utilized.

“We can set up cots and we have gas heat in there as well,” he said. “We may have to do more of a salvation army type thing but that’s more of a worst case scenario.”

Smith said that families can be from anywhere in the area, as long as they are able to get themselves to the church. Smith asks that families call or text Emery before making their way to the facility so church members and volunteers can prepare for their arrival.

“We’ll do it as long as it’s needed,” Smith said. “We will be functioning and be able to help all we can. We’ll feed as many as we can and we’ve got a great group that’ll help do that. We just want to serve.”

Restoration Ministries of Southeast Kentucky is located at 420 Lily School Rd. If you are looking to seek shelter, call or text Emery at 606-765-7802.

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