The reason why Lancaster is such a great place to live, is ultimately, because of the people!
And each year, we get to celebrate just 4 of them, each one going above and beyond to make a difference in our community. Through the Isaiah 61 Awards Celebration, we honor men and women serving those who are most vulnerable, bringing joy and good news to people on the outskirts, igniting joy in parts of the city once forgotten, or making Lancaster a welcoming place for everyone.
So in case you missed it, here are the recipients of the 2021 Isaiah 61 Awards:
Marlin & Doris Thomas Servant Leader Award | Jean Benedict
When Jean looks back over her life, she sees how God had been directing her heart to care for others. Not in a simplistic way, but in a deep, gritty way, equipping her to walk arm in arm through complex issues with men and women going through massive struggles.
Her love for restoration was strengthened through close friendships. One time in college, she befriended a new believer, a young woman who had recently overcome an addiction. As she studied to be nurse, she saw firsthand how hard it was for people like her, people trying earnestly to put their lives back together.
With a strong desire to follow God’s will for her, she responded to the call to come nurse at Water Street Health Services over 20 years ago. Today, she is Director of Medical Services at Water Street Health Services, and founder of our Nurse Care Management program.
The Oak of Righteousness Award | Phil Hernandez
Phil survived a life of constant turmoil in NYC. He was raised in the heat of gangs, drugs, and crime, and without a strong family basis, was quickly swept up into a life he would soon regret. He was first introduced to Christ during a visit to Puerto Rico, but it didn’t stick until he had a radical encounter with God himself. His life of crime had led to the devastation of his marriage, and he had lost most of what he loved. Considering suicide, he finally heard a voice telling him he needed help, and to seek a psychiatrist.
He gave his life over to Christ, and worked to make things right with his family, his wife, and his neighbors. Phil became determined to spread his experience with others, believing that God had saved someone as broken as him to prove His power and redeeming love.
Over the last 30 years, Phil has worked hard as the founding pastor of In the Light Ministries, a network of mostly urban based churches based in US, but with International reach.
The Restorer of the City Award | Rachel Eck Campbell
Rachel is the kind of neighbor that defines neighborly. She moved to Cabbage Hill in Lancaster because it seemed like the kind of place where people have each other’s back.
So in that same vein, when she first learned that Culliton Park wasn’t the kind of place most families wanted to visit, she decided to do something about it. She began making calls, and working with local organizations and the city, to see how it could finally be revitalized. After all, this part of the city deserved just as much love as the rest, she figured.
By spearheading the movement, Rachel was able to help this beautiful transformation come to life. Today, Culliton Park is filled with families, and children having fun on the playground. It’s become a truly restored part of our city.
Good News | Jennie Groff
Jennie has a heart for refugee moms and a deep faith. By opening Stroopies and the Lancaster Sweet shop, she was able to blend her love for people, with her love for business and making the world a sweeter place.
At Stroopies, Jennie offers jobs to refugee women, especially moms, helping to give them a kick start in their career, while having a safe place to work and provide for their families. Her employees are offered free English classes, and a unique work environment where women have more flexibility over their work.
While Jennie has always had a head for business, she says the women she gets to work with on a daily basis are her favorite part, and loves getting to come into work each day, to share her life with them.