Shortly after sunrise Jan. 25, Angel Valencia and volunteers descended on an empty lot behind Hillside Ministries in Killeen to remove rocks and debris to make way for the construction of a new athletic field and picnic area.

Valencia, the church’s pastor for seven years, saw a need for a park in the area since there is none nearby for children and joggers to use.

“I walked the ground one day, and God lay a hand on my heart and told me what to do here,” he said. “We want the community to know that Hillside Ministries is a church that cares about kids and cares about families.”

Circuit training area going up in spring

A circuit training area with pull-up bars, sit-up bars and a horizontal ladder will go up this spring in the 7,200-square-foot lot, followed by basketball and volleyball courts. In the fall, a picnic area with barbecue grills will be ready for use. Long-term plans include a covered shelter and a stage for concerts.

Joseph Valencia, the pastor’s son and a member of the church board of directors, always has helped his father with church projects.

“This area is transient, and we want to give people a reason to come and use the new facilities,” he said. “Hopefully, the new circuit training will draw people in and establish a sense of community.”

More volunteers, including several members of Hillside Ministries’ Mission Casa in Copperas Cove, arrived throughout the morning to help prepare the ground for planting grass seed in March.

Shawn Chapman said building the park, with construction costs estimated at $50,000, is all about taking one small step at a time.

“The more we progress, the more stuff comes in and we get more volunteers,” he said. “God is working here.”

So far, equipment, labor and dirt, valued at about $15,000, were donated for the project. Cooper & Bright provided a backhoe and an operator, and Chuck’s Construction leveled the ground. But more contributions are needed to make the park a reality.

Hillside Ministries welcomes all donations, including materials like concrete and dirt. Church volunteers will pick up scrap metal, old refrigerators and washers and take them to the recycle center. The church averages between $300 and $400 a month in recycling, and all proceeds go to fund the park project.

Jillian Malone travels from Temple to attend church services at Hillside Ministries. She volunteered to help work on the park because she believes in her pastor’s vision.

“He made it very clear that this is for the community, and I believe in what he’s doing,” she said.

Hillside Ministries is at 3601 Edgefield, Killeen. Call 254-258-7505.

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