Caterpillar Ministries was launched in 2007 by Anne Crawford. Anne began this ministry by walking door-to-door in the multi-ethnic Huntington Green Mobile Home Park. Many families wouldn’t even come to the door, fearing that she was an agent of Child Protective Services. Eventually, however, God paved the way for relationships to be formed and she began meeting with a handful of children in the front yard of one of the residents. In 2015, we expanded our programs to serve middle and high school students. In 2017, we stepped out in faith to more officially serve the adult population of the community, as well.
The ministry has now grown to serve approximately 225 children and adults. We are proud to have our own space and two 12-passenger vans to help us transport our neighbors to and from our weekly programs. Our staff members and volunteer team model Jesus’ love by providing educational, spiritual and mentoring programs for the neighbors. The services provided are made possible through donations from churches, individuals and corporate partners.
Caterpillar Ministries exists to change the lives of families living in impoverished areas of Lake Norman. Volunteers provide educational, spiritual and mentoring programs for neighbors in Huntington Green, a multi-ethnic neighborhood where poverty, high drop-out rates, chronic unemployment and addiction to drugs and alcohol often prevent individuals from thriving and living up to their God-given potential.
In the U.S., approximately 20% of children live in poverty, but interestingly, only 4.5% of Huntersville's children live in poverty. In a region of wealth, Huntington Green suffers from chronic unemployment, food insecurity, housing instability, and limited access to health care. Lake Norman is a unique community in that we are an area of extraordinary wealth but we are also a community filled with people of faith. Caterpillar Ministries provides the wonderful people of Lake Norman a way to connect our wealth with our neighbors in need.
We seek to carry out the mission of Jesus Christ by providing interventional programs through genuine relationships. We live life with these children and adults, sharing Christ and His love and helping them to know that they are not alone.
Anne Crawford, Founder/Ministry Director - Anne and her husband Rich have three grown children, Laura, David and Susannah. After teaching special education, Anne started helping in her children's Sunday School. In 1995, God began to place a burden in Anne’s heart for the children in her community who were not attending church. She began Kids Clubs in Colorado with children in mobile home communities and after nine years of serving as Children’s Director in two large churches, she stepped out in faith to begin Caterpillar Ministries. Anne faced some difficult challenges in her childhood and it is a testimony to Jesus Christ that she can now use the redemption of these challenges to encourage children facing similar obstacles. She knows from experience the transforming power of Christ and wants to share that with the children in her community. Under Anne’s leadership and God’s provision, Caterpillar Ministries has grown from a lunch program with five children to a ministry that touches approximately 200 children weekly. The Crawfords attend Newsong Church.
Lorie Lee, Executive Director – Lorie has a background in teaching and non-profit management. She received her B.A. in English as well as her Masters in Teaching from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She started her career as an English teacher in Wilmington, NC and went on to serve as Program Evaluation Director for the Wayne County Partnership for Children and then as Vice President for Smart Beginnings South Hampton Roads in Virginia. Lorie was raised in a Christian family and rededicated her life to Christ prior to getting married in 2003. She and her husband Rusty have two boys, Anderson and Bennett. She was connected with Caterpillar Ministries in 2010 after moving to the Lake Norman area and attending Christ Community Church. The Lee family currently attends Grace Covenant Church in Cornelius.
Sarah Fortner, Operations and Adult Services Director -
Cherri Johnson, Children's Ministry and Volunteer Director - Cherri brings with her many years of experience from both the School Guidance Counselor and Children's Ministry setting. She has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in school counseling from UNC-C. She is a lover of all things red, and she teaches our children the Gospel in a way that is understandable and life-giving. Cherri and her husband, Joey, have two daughters: Molly and Katie, and two dogs: McGee and Memphis. She joined Caterpillar staff in 2014. The Johnsons attend The Refuge Church.
Maria Gandy, Administrative Assistant – Maria was born in Mexico where she was one of eight children raised in poverty. At the age of nine, she lost her dad to alcoholism. At age eleven she moved to Houston, Texas where she started sixth grade and learned English. She graduated high school with honors and joined the U.S. Navy where she met her husband. They have two children, Cruz and Isabel. Maria accepted Jesus Christ as her savior in 1998 and found her faith to be her greatest asset when she lost her daughter Sofia to cancer in 2001. The Gandys attend Christ Community Church in Huntersville. Maria is the volunteer lead teacher for Caterpillar Ministries preschool program.
Blair Carpenter, Youth and Communications Director - Blair studied Hispanic Studies and Religion at Davidson College. She first visited Huntington Green during the spring of her freshman year at Davidson, and quickly developed a heart for the students, families, and neighborhood. She has served with the middle and high school students since 2012 and moved to a full-time staff position in 2015 to continue working with the youth. In 2016 she agreed to change her position to reflect our heart to serve and care for entire families in the neighborhood. She's passionate about our students and families experiencing hope-- hope eternal in Jesus and hope for the here and now through education, advocacy, and mentorship. Blair attends Lake Forest Church in Davidson.
Dave Furlough, Chairman – Dave has been serving the teens in Huntington Green since 2008. Throughout that time he has led a youth ministry partnering with Lake Haven Church, helped with tutoring, and participated in multiple ministry events and service opportunities. Dave currently leads a weekly small group study for high school boys. Dave lives in Huntersville with his wife Maria and four children where they attend Lake Forest Church. Prior to moving to North Carolina, Dave co-led a middle school youth group and worked for the Special Olympics in Connecticut. Upon moving to NC in 2007, Dave taught 8th grade math for a year and coached football at Bradley Middle School before transitioning back to a business role with Philips Healthcare.
Lynn Marshall, Secretary – Growing up in a trailer park herself gave Lynn a heart for children coming from that environment. She volunteered with Kids Club and Summer Camp until accepting a full-time job with the Billy Graham Association in 2014. Prior to being on staff at Billy Graham she worked in advertising sales for several Lake Norman publications and was active with the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. Lynn and her husband Wayne raised their three children in Huntersville and are members of Mecklenburg Community Church where Lynn volunteers in their children's ministry.
Matthew Cheek, Treasurer – Matthew has previously done financial work for Mosaic Church, Ardent Faith, Jackson Park Ministries. He and his wife Amy, along with their four children, volunteer and support Caterpillar Ministries’ programs.
Jody Roth – Jody has worked with students since 2008 where she was a small group leader in the Lake Forest Church youth group for six years. Within Caterpillar Ministries, she has been involved in Kids Club, Summer Camp, tutoring and co-leading Girls Club. Photography has been a hobby and a profession with Jody, but she now uses this gift primarily for ministry purposes. She and her husband, Randy, have been married for nearly 30 years and have three children and six grandchildren. Jody began her personal spiritual journey in 2000 and became a Christ follower in 2004. Lake Forest Church, whose mission is "loving people as they discover and live out their role in God's story," has been her church home for 11 years.
Marcus Mims – Marcus has been happily married for 23 years. His wife is a nurse currently serving at an elementary school in Kannapolis. He has two crazy sixth graders who are surviving triplets. He is the Associate Pastor to Students at First Baptist Church of Huntersville for the last 7 years. Student and family ministry has been a passion of his for over 20 years serving in various associate pastoral roles. He has a visual arts degree from Clemson University with a focus in painting and drawing. He received his M. Div. from the BTSR in Richmond, Va., after several years of teaching in an alternative middle school. Two years ago Caterpillar Ministries became an important ingredient in his student ministry by helping his students experience missions is not just overseas but at their doorsteps. His youth have enjoyed offering a Kids Club the past two summers at Caterpillar as well as some tutoring.