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Friday, May 6, 2016

Table Talk founder gives tirelessly of himself

Monday, October 19, 2009

Table Talk Ministries founder and president Bill Hutson, left, greets Mayor Sue Murray and Pastor Steve Williams before Saturday's Harvest Luncheon.
GREENCASTLE -- Thirty years ago, Bill Hutson was working construction when a friend talked him into becoming an over-the-road trucker.

Three decades on, Hutson is still driving a truck 70 hours a week, but he also spends 30 to 40 additional hours working -- what else -- construction, as the President of Table Talk Ministries.

"God's got a sense of humor because now I'm doing both," Hutson said.

Table Talk is the organization Hutson started with his wife Pam seven years ago to help the elderly and disabled with home repairs they cannot afford. Typical projects for Table Talk include remodeling bathrooms with ruined floors from water leaks, replacing roofs and installing wheelchair ramps.

To date, Table Talk has helped more than 75 people with repairs they otherwise could not have afforded.

On Saturday, the organization hosted its Harvest Luncheon at Peace Lutheran Church to promote its cause and spread the word about the need for this ministry in the community and around the state. Those in attendance included local clergymen, Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray and even some of the ministry's former clients.

Some came to the luncheon familiar with Hutson's work, while others were new to it. Universally, though, all walked away impressed with Table Talk and the man behind it.

"This is pure religion," said Pastor Steve Williams, adding that putting faith into action is what religion is all about.

Hutson said his faith is what led him to starting Table Talk.

"God gave me a vision. It was a little old man whose steps were broken on his porch and couldn't get off the porch," Hutson said. "I still haven't found that little old man."

What may be most impressive about Table Talk is the unselfishness of the Hutsons. From the founding of the ministry in 2002 until it attained non-profit status in 2006, 100 percent of funding came from Bill's own pocket.

Becoming a non-profit has made Table Talk able to take donations, but many of the expenses still come from Bill. He and Pam don't seem to mind much.

"Our bills are paid. He got food in our house. They're not cutting our lights off," Bill said. "I'll keep on truckin'."

Sometimes projects come up when money is already tight. However, if something needs done bad enough, he finds a way.

"I don't mind tightening my belt if it helps these people out," he said.

The name Table Talk actually has two meanings. The first sprung from Bill's work building picnic tables. Pam pointed out how the tables gave people a place to sit around and talk.

Bill also points out, though, that many of Martin Luther's teachings are written as "Table Talk," from the sessions the Reformation leader spent sitting at a table simply conversing with his students.

Whatever the name, the real story is this ministry's work. Table Talk is composed of Bill and Pam, some family members and several board members. With no paid staff, any donations to the organization are put to good use.

"It's one of the very few charities that can say 100 percent of the money goes into the projects," Bill said. "If there's tools that need to be bought, I buy them myself."

Besides the struggle for donations, another problem comes with people not wanting to ask for help. Instead, they try to continue getting buy in what can be desperate situations.

"A lot of them are just too embarrassed to ask for help, so we get a lot of them through the church," Bill said.

Table Talk stays busy, though. Currently on the docket are two bathroom projects and three more wheelchair ramps. After that is a long waiting list.

Table Talk also currently has tools and supplies stored in two different barns. This could soon be a problem as the owner of one of the barns is going up for sale. The ministry cannot afford the land and buildings at an asking price of $100,000. They are currently in the process of finding a permanent home so the work of the ministry can continue.

Other current needs are a full size pickup truck, a 10- or 12-foot utility trailer, monthly six-yard dumpster service, screws and nails of all sizes and a powered post hole auger for wheelchair ramps.

To help Table Talk, or for more information, contact Hutson at 301-6060 or billh@tabletalkministries.org. Learn more at www.tabletalkministries.org

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