Niles woman plans roof sit for missions

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Cheri Pitcher will soon have a different view of Niles.
It will come from spending a week at the unusual location of the Niles Inn and Conference Center's rooftop.
Pitcher, who is the Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade teacher at Michiana Christian Embassy in Niles and a registered nurse at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in South Bend, Ind., will be living on the roof to raise awareness and financial support for an Assemblies of God BGMC program.
Her week-long stay begins at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7 and goes through Sept. 14.
Pitcher said the program is called "Up in the Air for Kids.
The program was started two years ago by a man from Missouri who camped atop a billboard sign to raise money and awareness for good causes, she said.
Now, the program benefits children and families around the world through many projects, including meeting the needs of orphaned and abandoned children, providing educational materials, assisting children's hospitals, assisting mentoring programs, and sharing the news of Jesus.
Pitcher will be joining other church leaders in nine different states who will also be camping out on roofs and other "Up in the Air" places across the country.
She said this year the money raised in Michigan will be going to children in Africa, many of whom are orphaned as a result of the AIDS virus.
Pitcher recalls when she was asked to take part in the event.
Pitcher will have a tent, an air-mattress and a pop-up tent in which she can seek shade from the sun, as well as three phone lines on the roof.
The phone lines will be used to receive phone calls from people who want to donate money for the program, but the phone lines can also be used by her and others who will join her on the roof to call and ask people for donations.
Several people in Niles have already donated their time and will join her on the roof.
Among the visitors will be her husband and their four children.
Pitcher said when she told her husband, Bernie, what she was going to do, he said: "Are you crazy?
Pitcher will only be coming down from the roof to get a shower, to use facilities, or in the event of an emergency of dangerous weather, such as strong winds or lightning.
She doesn't know what will be the toughest thing about being on the roof for a week, but realizes there are pro's and con's about everything.
Pitcher, who once a month during church service is responsible for the BGMC program at the Christian Embassy, also conducts a childrens choir and sings in a choir herself.
Although she's the only woman going "Up in the Air" in Michigan this year, Pitcher, in her capacity as a nurse and church member, has been exposed to different things before.
She has visited Haiti twice, the Phillippines, Kenya and Tanzania -- all mission trips.
For more information about the event, call 269-683-3518.
To donate money directly on the phone while Pitcher is on the roof, call 574-232-KIDS.

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