By Sharon Mager
LEWES, Del. —Bob, a member of Seaside Baptist Church and chief of operations for Arnold Powerwash and That’s Gonna Make a Mark, a custom screen print and embroidery company, is hard at work. He’s busy on a machine that stamps designs on mugs. He stops and puts a mug on a table and comes to shake hands. He’s quiet, with an easy-going smile. Bob works with Charlie Arnold, pastor of Seaside Baptist Church and owner of both businesses. The men are friends, brothers in Christ, and Bob is the inspiration for the “second chance” program, developed by Arnold. Bob had been in prison, was paroled, and was praying that God would give him a new life. Charlie and his wife Erika, the Chief Financial Officer of the businesses, were looking for help with power washing. They gave Bob a second chance and Bob hit a home run.
Bob shares his story: “I was a member of another church and I had accepted the Lord as a teen, but through various stages, I was falling off.” He had been a leader and lay speaker in his church, but felt heavy spiritual warfare. Through a series of events, Bob made some bad decisions and found himself in prison, where he decided to commit suicide. “I knew how to do that without being detected,” he says, after all, he was a paramedic. But God intervened. Bob asked the Lord to make Himself known to him once again. “And He did,” Bob says. “I recommitted my life to Him and I’ve never looked back.
“I prayed and asked God for guidance and for men to be brought in my life so I would stay on the correct path and I felt like He was leading me here, to Charlie.
Bob applied to Arnold Powerwash. “When Charlie said he was a pastor, I knew that’s where I was going to be. Even though he had some reservations because I am a felon, he decided to take a chance on me. I’ve been with him ever since.”
Charlie says, “Bob was such a good employee he became crew chief and ultimately I gave him the positon of chief of operations. That’s when we started looking at creating several small businesses and that’s when he, I and Erika became partners in the embroidery and screen print business, That’s Gonna Make a Mark.”
Charlie admits hiring Bob wasn’t an easy decision. “I was concerned. We knew about probation notifications, what people would think. Erika and I prayed and thought we would take a chance. It was the best personal and business decision I’ve ever made. Bob truly gave it his all,” he says.
Bob became the inspiration to reach out and help others who need and want a second chance. “Some have done well, some have not,” he admits. “When I first went to talk to the work release people, they wanted to make sure I wasn’t a pastor with ‘rose colored glasses.’ I assured them, I’ve got my eyes wide open. I know some people will do well, some people won’t.” And that’s what has happened.
Not long after Bob began working for Charlie Arnold, he met Annie, his fiancé. Annie came from a legalistic denomination. She accepted Christ in a women’s Bible study in 2014, but says she really didn’t have a support system when her life began to crumble. Having an addictive nature, Annie says she turned to her “go-to” for relief—alcohol. She was on a downhill slide.
“When you grow up a certain way you think that’s how it is. I was in despair and chose to self-medicate. Now there are people who care about me,” she emphasizes.
Annie’s life turned around when she and Bob met at a local Walmart. She had on a blank scrub shirt and Bob, the screen print and embroidery specialist trying to drum up some business, told her he could do some embroidery for the shirt. They got to know each other and Bob shared his testimony—how Jesus turned his life around. Annie recommitted her life to Jesus.
Both began attending Seaside Baptist Church. “Bob, Pastor Charlie and Erika, and the people at the church are now my family,” Annie says with a smile.
Charlie hired Annie as an administrative assistant to help with the businesses. Annie is thrilled.
“Pastor Charlie put a lot of trust in me. Helping with the business has meant everything and helped me in every other area of my life. I have to be responsible, on my game, step it up, always learning new things in life. If you’re not learning you’re not growing,” she says.
They’ve started a third business, APW Supplies, that offers needed supplies to first responders and will also supply both Arnold Powerwash LLC and That’s Going to Make a Mark. Charlie hopes to have 15 businesses in that model operated in a hub, or shared space, and use that same space to plant a church. Eventually, he wants to be able to take that model anywhere in the United States and actually revitalize communities.
Charlie explains the usual way communities are “revitalized,” is to bulldoze everything and rebuild. “All they’ve done is push out the people that live there that needed the help because now they can’t afford to live in the community they just built. My idea is to actually go in and give people jobs and provide a church with all its programs and basically address the revitalization from every standpoint.”
The future looks bright for the businesses, and for Bob and Annie. They were both baptized at Lewes Beach and they’re going to be married in September on the beach. They’re using their second chance to grow together, in Christ.