Ministry deeply rooted in Union Parish


Help is offered for those in need

  • Brian and Susie Halley, founders of the Trees of Righteousness ministry, display a sign they came across while going through stacks of donated items. Gazette photo by DONNA BUNCH
    Brian and Susie Halley, founders of the Trees of Righteousness ministry, display a sign they came across while going through stacks of donated items. Gazette photo by DONNA BUNCH

The human spirit is an incredible thing. Often when mankind experiences some of its most tragic events, people bond together to bring manpower, assistance and most importantly hope, to those who are suffering.

This has been proven during the current Covid-19 Pandemic, the tornado in the spring of 2019 and many other emergencies and natural disasters that have occurred over the years. This was especially true in August of 2005 when South Louisiana was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of Louisianans were displaced by the floodwaters Katrina brought with her, and many of those refugees settled in Union and surrounding parishes.

The Farmerville community saw the displaced people, families and groups and realized that many did not have even the barest of necessities like food and clothing. The outpouring of love, kindness and hope to meet these needs resulted in the creation of one of Union Parish’s most active missions, Trees of Righteousness.

Trees of Righteousness is a mission in Farmerville with the goal of helping those in need. Although the outreach started as a mission to help those affected by Hurricane Katrina, the founders quickly realized that due to the poverty level in Union Parish, there were many citizens and hometown people who were struggling just to get by. Trees of Righteousness decided to remain open, and for the last 10 years has strived to meet the needs of the underprivileged in Union Parish.

The mission got its name in the roots of Isaiah 61:3, which refers to Oaks of righteousness, which are a planting of the Lord. Susie Halley, a lifelong resident of Union Parish is the director of Trees of Righteousness. She has spent her entire life in this community and uses her knowledge and contacts to tap into resources that will benefit Trees of Righteousness and the community it serves. Patti Odom is the co-director of Trees of Righteousness. Odom is the wife of a retired Navy Chief and recently returned to Union Parish after living away for many years. Together these ladies, along with many volunteers, make sure those in need receive the essentials needed to get through each day. “Trees are viewed as being strong and sturdy,” said Odom, “and that is what we strive to be for Union Parish.”

Trees of Righteousness offers support in many ways. They help single mothers with household and food items. They can also help refer them to other resources that can provide further help depending on the circumstances. Once a month they provide a hot meal to veterans, senior citizens and the homeless. However, if anyone in need drops by at lunchtime, there is always something cooking in the kitchen. These wonderful lunches are provided by two of the best cooks around, Brenda Kenner and Eugene Abbey. The kitchen at Trees of Righteousness also provides sack lunches available for pick up and will also provide a box of food for those who demonstrate a need. “The people of Union Parish have many needs,” said Odom, “maybe their paycheck doesn’t stretch far enough to buy food for their children, or maybe they are coming out of a domestic abuse situation or a senior citizen or veteran who needs a helpful hand. However we can help others, that is what we strive to do.”

During the summer, Trees of Righteousness provides a children’s program once a week called the Children’s Corner program. There is no charge for children to come and enjoy arts, crafts, games and books, as well as a hot meal. “Trees of Righteousness is planted here to help others and point them to Christ,” said Odom, “so that He might be glorified.”

In order to serve the community in this mighty way, Trees of Righteousness relies on donations from people in the community. These donations can consist of clothes, furniture, and other items, which they sell in a small thrift store. The thrift store is what provides the income for the mission to provide services to the community. They also rely on food donations, which are passed on to those who demonstrate a need.

While Trees of Righteousness thrift store is currently closed due to Covid 19 closures, they are still working in the background to provide for those in need. They receive calls every day for those who may need food, clothing, or emotional support.

Trees of Righteousness welcomes volunteers who would like to get involved in helping the community. Any who would like to volunteer or make donations can contact Susie Halley at 318-801-5800.