Dayton ministry is making a difference

Changing lives

Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland: Friends and family of Angie Mardino were very skeptical when she bought the old Dayton Hotel in 2006, because the structure (above) had been vacant for 11 years, needed numerous repairs and a lot of TLC and she was a single woman. Sheer determination to follow where she believed the Lord was leading has blessed 1,000s of lives in four counties and she isn’t finished yet.

DAYTON — A return visit to The Master’s Plan Cafe in Dayton has revealed much growth and many positive changes since they were featured on July 2, 2011.

“There have been so many lives changed and so many lives surrendered to Christ,” says Angie Mardino-Miller, founder and executive director. “We have seen so many people who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, stop. What I’ve learned and what makes us different is because first we feed them. Feeding them gets them to trust us and then we can minister to them.”

Mrs. Miller felt compelled to buy the sprawling, dilapidated building that once housed the Dayton Hotel, even though it had sat vacant for 11 years. She felt God was revealing his plan to her in three dreams where she heard music playing and saw people eating in a 50s style cafe. He continued to reveal the vision by placing more goals on her heart though out the years since the building’s acquisition in 2006.

Back in 2011 the building was used for mission work and community functions with Mardino-Miller claiming 3,000 people were helped. The plan was to use the two upper apartments to house people with life-devastating situations, such as battered women and burned-out families. This vision and the ministry has grown exponentially since then. Some of the upstairs rooms are rented by way of monetary payment or volunteer hours to the ministry. One apartment is used for pastor retreats. In recent years a house, donated by Joe and Janet Vogtli, is being used for emergency housing for families.

Her goal of using the building to give back to the community that had provided the resources and the volunteers to do the work has been far surpassed. The ministry has grown beyond the massive building to other nearby structures. She has seen unending miracles take place by way of hundreds of volunteers, including union steamfitters and electricians, donations of materials, used and new appliances and funds, as well as a jar containing $3,300 found in a chimney.

Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland: Friends and family of Angie Mardino were very skeptical when she bought the old Dayton Hotel in 2006, because the structure had been vacant for 11 years, needed numerous repairs and a lot of TLC and she was a single woman. Sheer determination to follow where she believed the Lord was leading has blessed 1,000s of lives in four counties and she isn’t finished yet.

Thousands of pounds of fresh and canned foods are donated annually. The biggest and most exciting miracles are the lives that have been turned around.

Fancher Windows and Doors donated drywall for the very large meeting room and arranged for helpers from their church for the installation. Men from Cleveland Hill Presbyterian Church painted the room. Prisoners from Collins Correctional Facility have helped with projects, too.

“Ron Klubek, a corrections officer, has been so dedicated to helping the ministry and so dedicated to walking with the prisoners he works with. I have a lot of respect for that man,” she said. “You can tell he’s genuine. He wants to work with these guys and he gives positive reinforcement.”

On the days when volunteers are present, mostly Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, meals are served with passersby being welcome to partake. The doors are thrown open at various times throughout the year for special dinners.

“There are only two rules at the Master’s Plan Cafe; If you’re going to eat with us, you’re going to pray with us and you’re not going to use the Lord’s name in vain,” Miller said. “I dare say 80 percent of people who get involved in this ministry end up recovering and staying sober. God put this on my heart, ‘if you’re going to expect to minister to the hardest of hearts, don’t expect them to come all cleaned up.'”

In 2010 the Dayton food pantry was set into operation two days per month at the location. Today 15-18 volunteers run the pantry every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a building next door. The programs are income-based and non-income-based. The well-organized set-up has the recipients signing in upon entering, taking a seat and shopping with a shopping cart when called. The choices include fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, grains and refrigerated and frozen items. Occasionally pet food is available, made possible by a Hamburg family.

“We serve an average of 130 families in three hours when the Food Express truck is here,” said the director. “We give recipes and sometimes cook dishes to be sampled.”

“We’re hauling between 11,000 and 16,000 pounds of food every month,” she says as she refers to the large truck they now own. They have a tractor with a fork lift for moving pallets. A used walk-in cooler was donated and local farmers donate beef and pork on occasion. A family has donated funds to add an addition onto two sides of the building, for cement work in the driveway and for other uses.

“We touch four counties. We’re seven miles from Erie County, 12 miles from Chautauqua County and we’re located in Cattaraugus County. We have a family from Niagara County that stops on their way back from getting wood,” she says. “Sam’s Club in Lakewood used to donate to us, so it is a sad thing (that they have closed).”

The Master’s Plan Ministry received the “Cattaraugus County Agency of the Year Award” by the Food Bank of Western New York and was recognized by the New York Department of Health for participating in the Healthy Pantry Initiative.

Some other ministries that take place in and from the old hotel are bi-monthly senior citizen gatherings from May-October, an outreach providing clothes and household items to those in need and an outreach supplying new shoes for children and adults when supplies are available. The ministry works closely with Cattaraugus County Probation office, which sends people in need of doing community service. The local community uses the facility for a gathering place. A free Giving Back dinner is served the day after Thanksgiving from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with some deliveries made to housebound residents. Boxes are delivered in December to families who have suffered devastating circumstances.

After 11 years of maintaining a single lifestyle, the registered nurse feels the Lord sent her Bob Miller, the man who became her husband on Oct. 13, 2012. Miller, who works for a signature mechanical contractor designing programmable logic controllers, showed up with 20 men from Christian Motorcyclists Association after seeing a newsletter with a prayer request for a new heating system considerably reducing the cost.

“I believe because of our obedience and because of our faithfulness God blessed me with a beautiful husband with a heart to serve the Lord,” she said.

The couple have each become ordained pastors and began the non-denominational The Master’s Plan Community Church, in April 2014.

“My husband spent most of his adult life in a Pentecostal church. I was raised Catholic. I spent 14 years at the Free Methodist Church in Gowanda and 15 years at Forestville Wesleyan,” she shares. “If you’d told me I was becoming a pastor back then, I would have told you you were crazy.

“I don’t know of any other ministry that is 100 per cent volunteer,” she adds. “We don’t accept a stipend for Sunday service.”

Mrs. Miller believes the cafe she saw in her dream is going to come to fruition in 2018. It will be like an old-fashioned 50s-60s diner with blue plate specials providing 15-20 jobs. A new dental ministry will be the first ministry to benefit from the proceeds of the cafe, but not solely, as other ministries will benefit later.

“We’ve never had a loan against this building. That’s why it’s taken a decade to come to completion.”

The ministry currently touches 6,500 people, living up to their mission statement which is “Touching, teaching and transforming lives one family at a time, with fun, food and family values with Jesus Christ as our guide.”

The Master’s Plan Ministries is a non-denominational non-profit ministry located at 9586 Railroad Avenue, Dayton, New York. The Master’s Plan Community Church Sunday School for adults and children is at 10 followed by the worship service at 11 a.m. The telephone number is 725-9229.