Some people might say Cameron Friesen doesn’t have a lot of reasons to be hopeful.As are many Americans, he is out of work and barely getting by.But Friesen has hope for himself and the rest of his community, so much hope he has founded a non-profit group to help others in the community in need.He calls his new group New Hope.
Some people might say Cameron Friesen doesn’t have a lot of reasons to be hopeful.As are many Americans, he is out of work and barely getting by.But Friesen has hope for himself and the rest of his community, so much hope he has founded a non-profit group to help others in the community in need.He calls his new group New Hope.A longtime friend who has health problems needed his house painted, and Friesen and his new group recently stepped up to seek donations for supplies and provide the labor to get the job done.“It was amazing they were able to do the house in one day,” the man said. “I like to see people come together and get things done. ... It’s God’s will, not our will.”Friesen smiled at his old friend.“To be able to help people is the greatest joy in the whole world,” he said.The painting project is one of only several projects Friesen would like to see his fledgling group work on this year.The group also is raising funds to buy lift equipment for a van for a family who has a handicapped son.“We want that family to be able to take their son out in the community and to his appointments,” Friesen said.Friesen said New Hope also wants to help a family rebuild whose house burned this winter.Cameron is not what you would generally think of when you think of non-profit director. He’s young, ambitious, deeply religious and somewhat unconventional.Across one arm is the word “Jesus,” tattooed in Gothic letters, with “Freak” its matched tattooed across the other. He wears double spike earrings in both ears. He wants to get a job in which he can keep his tattoos. A member of Newton’s contemporary River Point church, where Christian Rock has replaced “Rock of Ages,” Friesen said he said his tattoos help him minister to young people.At the recent house painting service project, the 24-year-old was covered with green house paint from his baseball cap to his work boots, but took time to take a break and talk about his aspirations for New Hope.He took out a binder, containing a legal pad, and lawn chairs and fresh-clipped lawn took on the air of a board room for the young philanthropist.“New Hope wants to reach out to families needing help,” he said. “We don’t care if you are rich or poor. We want to know what you need, so we can help you set goals.”The group has gathered items they hope to sell at a silent auction to raise money for future projects, which could include help with bill payment, help with appliances, or service projects, like their recent home repair and painting project.About 20 people showed up on a hot Saturday afternoon to paint the house.“We want to make life as simple as possible. We want to bring the community together to help others,” he said.Friesen knows what it means to be down and out. He was taken in by a local foster family when he was 4 and eventually adopted and raised in that Christian home.But during his teen and early 20s, he fell away from the church.He joined the Marines, but he was discharged after he fell in an accident and broke both his legs at which time the military discovered he had asthma.Friesen’s legs healed, but his heart didn’t. He began using drugs, and eventually was arrested.Despite the rough times, his family accepted him back. And today, Friesen has been clean for three years.“I was like the prodigal son,” he said, tears welling in his eyes. “I could not believe that someone could love me that much.”Connected back with his Christian roots, Friesen said he, like Billy Graham, started to going to church because of a girl.That woman now is his wife.“I followed a skirt to church, and I got saved,” he said.The first week of April, Friesen was rebaptised at River Point.And it is the couple’s faith in God,that is helping them through tough times.“I have been out of work for six months,” he said. “God said there were other things for me to do. I had to open my ears to hear what he was telling me. I said, OK, God, you win.’ I already have 10 to 15 needs lined up. I have the know how. I know how to get things done.”Friesen hopes to eventually earn his living in the non-profit sector.“Service, for me, is a way of life because God said to do it,” he said.Friesen is working on obtaining non-profit status for his group. In the meantime, he is working with the Central Kansas Community Foundation to take donations for the group. “We are taking baby steps,” Friesen said. “This is God’s ministry. It will be more successful than anything we can comprehend.”Anyone needing a need filled or wishing to donate or volunteer with New Hope can contact Friesen at (316) 217-6386 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.