Thursday, June 30, 2011

Another Reason to Invest in CitySquare!

When I was working as a leader with Dallas Area Interfaith, I remember a peculiar sense of pride I felt when I would pick up the newspaper and read of a meeting or initiative that had taken place of which I had little or no knowledge. I wondered why I didn't feel left out, as a member of the Executive Committee and then I realized: the reason why I felt pride instead of resentment was that I was a part of something bigger than me! It was actually a mark of the organization's success that I didn't have to have hands on involvement with everything. 

I get the same feeling at CitySquare. Enormous pride that everything doesn't depend on my day to day involvement with everything. Although I supervise most programming, we have competent program directors and faithful volunteer leadership that carry our efforts far beyond the ability of either Larry, Keith Ackerman (our COO) or any of our executive management to have intimate day-to-day knowledge. 

Take, for example, the impact we share with other servant churches in Dallas as they meet needs in their communities throughout Dallas. I don't know every partner that we have in our city, or for instance, all of the partners we have participating in our NKN (Nurture, Knowledge and Nutrition) summer food program. Eventually you get a glimpse and you can't feel anything but pride! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Free Lunch

This summer children are receiving free lunches on weekdays in many of Dallas' low-income neighborhoods.  More than 70% of Dallas public school children qualify for free or reduced price lunches during the school year because they are part of low income families.  When school lets out for the summer, the idea is to use the same school lunch funding stream to continue to provide this meal to the kids at convenient locations in their neighborhoods.  The meals are available to any child up to 18 years of age.  Adults cannot eat the meals, and the children must eat the meals on-site--they cannot take them home.

Dozens and dozens of churches and other non-profit groups serve as on-site coordinators for this free lunch program, and I am so glad that Cliff Temple Baptist Church is one of those.  The church does not buy the lunches--they are provided for them through a contract with CitySquare.  The church provides the place and volunteers to facilitate the on-site feeding. 

About 2 weeks ago, on a Tuesday,  I met up with a team from Cliff Temple Baptist Church to serve free lunches at an apartment community on North Lancaster Avenue in Oak Cliff.  Cliff Temple already has a great ministry at these apartments under the leadership of Greg Cuellar, pastor of the church's Spanish-speaking congregation.  The lunches are delivered to the apartments every day to the  in big coolers, and one of the residents keeps them in her living room until it’s time to pass them out.  Cliff Temple has several tables and chairs set up under big awnings in the courtyard a couple to keep the kids out of the sun.  Around 11:00 the children began arriving.  Some of them came alone, and lots of them came with their mothers. Wes does a great job of including the moms into the leadership of the feeding program.  We all worked together to served about 50 kids.  They ate turkey wraps, fresh broccoli, cantaloupe, and had milk to drink. 

As we watched the kids eat, we were able to chat with some of the moms.  I met a women with three young children.  She was excited because on the following Saturday she and her children were going to get on a Greyhound bus and join her husband in Shreveport.  He had found a job there making $12 an hour, which was $2 an hour more than he had been making in Dallas.  This woman, as well as the other moms there, knew that it was Cliff Temple who was serving them, and they knew which apartment Cliff Temple used for Bible study and worship. 

It’s so important for churches to do ministry and worship on-site at apartment communities.  About 80 percent of people who live in apartments do not attend church. So if churches will serve in apartment communities, we are able to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus who would likely not go to church otherwise.

I’m so glad I was able to volunteer to help pass out those lunches. Contact me if you'd like to volunteer at a summer feeding site, or submit your comment about your church's summer feeding ministry.

Thanks Jana! 

For those of you who read this, remember, we able to make this impact because of partners who invest in our organization beyond the public funds we are able to access. Your time, talent and your treasure help CitySquare attack poverty systemically and through direct service! If you haven't made an investment, we hope you'll consider doing so. 

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