Originally a Tennessee native, 21-year old Hannah Forsythe is embarking upon her third summer of service as a summer missionary intern with Mission Centers Houston’s Global Footprints program. “I keep coming back, I guess, because it’s different from every other program I’ve seen,” Forsythe explained at the end of a noisy lunch break this week. “The work that’s being done here is intentional. It’s about sharing Christ and it’s not just a hand out. The neighborhood is open to what we’re doing and — it’s just exciting.”
Mission Centers of Houston is honored to host a retirement party for Tommie and Roy Mendez, long-time director and assistant director at Joy Fellowship Center, in light of their 29 years of faithful service. “Tommie and Roy’s lives are a wonderful picture of what it looks like to be dedicated to something bigger than oneself,” current executive director, Ginger Smith, noted. The fact that they’ve been serving with Mission Centers of Houston for 29 years, she added, shows their deep commitment to God as well as to this ministry, reflecting the great love they have for this community.
Taking place on Saturday, June 15th, Tommie and Roy’s retirement celebration will be a come & go function from 10:30 am until noon at Joy Fellowship (7629 Avenue F, Houston, TX 77012). If other commitments make attendance impossible, cards, gifts and other expressions of well wishing can be sent to the attention of Tommie & Roy Mendez at 1815 Gano St, Houston, TX 77009.
“What drew me in initially is a love of the English language,” shared long-time Fletcher volunteer and English as a Second Language (ESL) facilitator, Sharon Mattox, earlier this week. Her heartfelt commitment to the field began in 1976. “I really enjoy sharing that passion with others, and given the fact that I can combine my love of English with my love of Christ — well, it’s a perfect fit,” she explained. Sharon has been helping to facilitate the ESL ministry at Fletcher Center since 2002 when she first visited the Mission Centers of Houston during a missions experience hosted by River Oaks Baptist Church.
Although Sharon was a Delta flight attendant by profession, her greatest passion has always been for English. She has participated in multiple ESL workshops, conferences and training sessions for over 30 years, frequently hosted at the Baylor campus as well as by different churches and locations across the entire state of Texas. In addition to benefiting from years of experience and training, Sharon also noted that one of the key resources she utilizes during her classes is that of teaching through songs and chants. “I just love music!” she declared enthusiastically. “Really, I think it’s a bit more painless to learn language when you’re learning through song, and the ladies like to sing, so that’s become a great resource.”
Sharon currently teaches the most advanced ESL class hosted twice a week at Fletcher. There are over 30 students, mostly women, who regularly participate in this thriving, ever-expanding program with about 8 who are enrolled in Sharon’s advanced class. In addition to being able to incorporate music into both her teaching and ministry with the ESL students, Sharon is grateful for the greater appreciation and understanding of different cultures she’s received from interacting with women from all over the world for many years. “No matter where they are from, we all share similarities and we can share together, share our stories together, and encourage each other,” Sharon concluded, “and that’s a real blessing.”
During our volunteer appreciation week, we are so grateful to recognize the countless hours of faithful service, instruction, mentoring and discipleship that volunteers like Sharon have so generously shared throughout the years. Thank you for enriching the lives of our women, and therefore their families and friends’ lives as well, on such a consistent basis!
Do you have a unique set of skills or experiences you would like to share with the community we serve at Mission Centers of Houston? Learn more about how to get connected with our ESL ministry or another similarly beneficial volunteer opportunity by contacting associate director Craig Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our newest staff member, associate director Craig Taylor, recently took time to pen a few heartfelt words of appreciation to each of our highly valued volunteers. As we get ready to head into volunteer appreciation week on Monday, it seems only appropriate to share his thoughts here:
What a joy it is to send this note to the people who are touching so many lives in Houston’s inner-city! My name is Craig Taylor and I am the new Associate Director of the Mission Centers. Part of my responsibilities is coordinating and ministering to our wonderful volunteers. I can’t wait to get to know you all in the weeks ahead!
I come to MCH out of 30 years in vocational ministry: 10 in youth and college ministry and 20 as a pastor. Over these years God has grown in me a heart to encourage and equip followers of Jesus and a passion for hands-on ministry in the community. When the opportunity came to come to MCH it felt like this is what God had been preparing me to do my whole life! And these first few weeks of service have done nothing but confirm those feelings. It is a privilege to be a part of what God is doing through MCH and I am honored to serve you as a part of my ministry here.
I hope to meet you in person soon but please know I am here to meet any need you might have, whether it is something related to your work at MCH or a personal matter I could be praying about. Call (713-227-0304, ext.107) or email (email@example.com) and let me know anything I can do for you. And remember that you are the very heart of our ministry. You are the love of Christ each time you are here: playing with kids, helping with ESL, making a meal for seniors or sweeping up the gym – everything you do demonstrates the heart of God and the worth of each person we serve. Thank you for investing your life in the Kingdom! Blessings!
Immediate need for volunteers to help with a major construction project at Joy Fellowship Center
I. Purpose: Mission Centers of Houston has been working for years to raise money and support to build a residential house across the street from Joy Fellowship Center (7629 Ave. F., Houston, TX 77012). The purpose of the house is to provide living space for leadership staff of Joy Center. Staff must live on-site to provide security and develop community relationships.
II. Plan: A contractor has volunteered his time to create blueprints, obtain City permits and oversee construction. On April 4, 2013, the City of Houston granted permits to build. Construction is expected to start within the next 10 days. The goal is to have the house completed by June 1, 2013.
III. Need: To keep expenses within budget, we need teams of volunteers to assist with all phases of this project (foundation, framing, interior finishing, siding, roofing, etc.).
- Our contractor will provide all tools and supervision.
- Required skill levels vary during each phase. However, ALL skill levels are needed. On-the-job-training will be provided for most jobs.
- Time commitments vary during each phase of construction. Some jobs require one day; others may require multiple days.
IV. Volunteer Opportunities:
- 6-8 strong volunteers to dig beams and tie rebar (Estimated time commitment: 10 days)
- 12 volunteers to frame the deck (nail guns will be provided)
- 12 volunteers to lay plywood and frame the entire house (Estimated time commitment: 1-2 weeks)
- 8 men to roof the house (Estimated time commitment: 1 day)
- 8-10 volunteers to hang vinyl siding and windows (Estimated time commitment: 2 days)
- Groups to finish the house (hang sheetrock, lay flooring, paint, install cabinets, hardware, etc.) Date to be determined.
V. In-Kind donations needed (household items need to be NEW):
- Ceiling fans (6 total; surface mount)
- Gas ranges (2 total; white)
- Microwaves (2 total; countertop)
- Refrigerators (2 total; white)
- Cabinets for kitchens (2 kitchens)
- Cabinet hardware
- Bathroom hardware (3 faucets, 3 shower/tub)
- Fluorescent lights for kitchens (2 total, flush mount)
- Contractor who currently holds a bond to cut the driveway apron (that we can use their bond and not have to pay a new fee)
- Concrete driveway (approximately 25’ x 35’). We need concrete and delivery
- 1 double garage door opener (with remote)
- 1 single garage door opener (with remote)
- Flooring (carpet and ceramic)
- Paint (Ask about colors)
- Roll-off dumpster for construction debris
- Metal cages for 2 a/c units
- Door hardware (interior and exterior)
- Window blinds
For more information about the project contact:
Ginger Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 713-227-0304 ext. 104.
For information about volunteering contact:
Craig Taylor, email@example.com, 713-227-0304 ext. 107.
Soon after participating in Mission Centers of Houston’s Global Footprints program, a summer-long missionary intern experience that focuses on cross-cultural immersion, servant leadership, community building, discipleship and more, one of our students contacted us to share the following: “Community here this summer has been like a picture of the body of Christ. Even though we hear about it all the time, it is hard to understand how well it really works until we see it in action. We have been able to keep each other accountable, encourage one another, and serve together with different gifts, and we all grew through that.”
Whether blowing bubbles, using bright crayons to scribble within the thick black lines, participating in the ball toss, engaging in an impromptu game of basketball, sharing snacks or listening to a Bible story, it was clear from the huge smiles on the faces of volunteers and community members alike that this past Saturday’s block parties at our Joy Fellowship, Gano and Fletcher Centers were a huge success.
As part of their church’s mission statement, Kerusso Grace states that “who we are and what we do is centered on the proclamation of the gospel—kerusso (proclaim) grace—so that through gospel proclamation lives be transformed and God be glorified.” The church body is a small yet faithful group of people that includes teenagers lining up the back row, small children clutching their crayons throughout the service, men and women coming off of the streets, homeless brothers and a handful of leaders committed to living life alongside of the people to whom they minister. They have been meeting in our Fletcher Center since last year and their presence, says Fletcher director, Noe Ortiz, is a welcome and beneficial addition to the neighborhood.
Having recently graduated from North Georgia College and State University this past December with a major in English, semester intern Chris Smolarsky feels a definite calling towards ministry — and finds that his time of service with Mission Centers of Houston has played a distinct role in helping him settle on to that path.
Featuring entertainment by Taylor Mason, a talented comedian, ventriloquist and musician, Mission Centers of Houston’s third annual dinner theater is to be hosted by Copperfield Church this November 9th. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the event promises to be a highly rewarding experience for all involved. We look forward to a great opportunity to increase awareness about the kingdom work taking place at our three centers every day while also raising money for our ongoing needs. In addition to enjoying delicious food and live entertainment, guests of the dinner theater are also invited to participate in a raffle for an iPad3 and to bid on a variety of items during our live and silent auctions. A weekend getaway to Lake Tahoe, tickets for the Texans, a Galveston beach rental and more will all be available for the winning bidders. There will be further opportunity to invest in meeting the needs of the individuals and families we serve on a daily basis through sponsorship of our Feed 100 People program.
While we are happy to provide childcare upon request, arrangements must be made ahead of time for their provision — please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve childcare.
Our sincere thanks are offered towards Copperfield Church, our corporate donor support and the many volunteer hours that so generously go into making this evening a great success.
For more information about how to sponsor a table, purchase tickets online, view auction items or read about the evening’s entertainment, go to our website at http://missioncenters.org/dinner-theater/. We can’t wait to see you there!
While recognizing that not all are qualified to offer direct care services for those rescued from labor and sex trafficking, Mission Centers of Houston holds the belief that everyone has a hugely vital role to play in combating modern-day slavery. One such commitment that the faith community can offer is in supporting the hands-on work of highly trained case workers, counselors, psychologists, trauma specialists, legal representatives and law enforcement officers through prayer, volunteer hours and tangible resources. In conjunction with Houston’s 6th annual human trafficking awareness month, we are currently seeking individual sponsors as well as church partners who are willing to show a 4-minute video piece highlighting the pressing issue of human trafficking in our city during their service, Bible study or small group on Sunday, September 23rd. We are also looking for those who would be interested in participating in a donation drive for Freedom Place as sponsored by Mission Centers of Houston that will last from Sunday, September 23rd until Tuesday, October 2nd. There will be a donation bin held at the Mildred McWhorter Missionary Building where Mission Centers of Houston houses our administrative offices. There will be additional donation bins available for item drop offs in the foyer of participating churches.
A comprehensive, Christ-centered care & recovery center for underage female victims of domestic child sex trafficking, Freedom Place is the first facility of its kind in the state of Texas. Requested items for Freedom Place include:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Nair products (NO RAZORS ALLOWED)
- Pepto bismol
- Cough drops
- Swim suits (ONLY ONE PIECE)
- Exercise shorts
- SOCKS: we need house socks since no one is allowed to wear shoes inside, including fuzzy socks or house socks with grippies on the bottom, socks in fun colors and/or running socks
- Sports bras
- Liner bags for small trash cans
- Grocery store gift cards to buy fresh fruit & meat products
- G- and PG-rated DVDs
- Plastic cutlery
- Hair straighteners
For more information on how to get involved with the donation drive taking place from September 23rd until October 2nd, contact Kate at email@example.com.
After weeks of ongoing emotional, relational and spiritual investment in the community, saying goodbye at the end of the summer can sometimes prove to be a rewarding but sad process for our group of 14 missionary interns. One way to cope with the transition? Host an afternoon-long, all staff involved, water balloon-filled splash day at each of the centers! As clearly demonstrated by the gigantic, sopping wet smiles on the faces of staff, interns, and youth alike, there are few better ways to celebrate the end of summer programming than with a giant water party.
They say it takes a village to raise a child; in this context, one could also say it takes a community to paint a mural. Originally the brainchild of Mission Year intern, Mary Kate Huffman from Boone, North Carolina, the vibrant and multi-textured scheme slowly developing on the rear wall of the Gano Center gym wall bears colorful testimony to the many hands that have contributed to its formation.
Despite frequent bursts of muggy rain showers and mysterious swarms of Caribbean ant colonies, spirits remained high all throughout the 2012 Souled Out summer camp this past week. Held just outside of the Houston city limits at Highland Creek Camp in Hitchcock, Texas, over 50 youth from each of our Joy Fellowship, Fletcher and Gano Centers participated in variety of games, arts & crafts, Bible study sessions, cabin-mate bonding time, physical activity, meals and bilingual worship during a 5-day period. Regardless of whether or not this was their first or their third time attending summer camp with Mission Centers of Houston, the experience was an immensely positive one for each camper, summer missionary intern, and staff member alike.
Thanks to a sweet connection through The Get Together, a networking organization that seeks to connect local business partners with non-profits, Joy Fellowship Center recently received 50 donated tickets to go ice skating at the Sugar Land Ice and Sports Center. After a full week of kids’ club activities, yard work, senior citizen ministry and more, it’s hard to say who enjoyed today’s excursion more — the kids or Mission Centers of Houston’s summer missionary interns! Thank you, Jaimie with the Ice and Sports Center, for making it possible for some of our youth and interns alike to escape the muggy June heat for a few hours of uproarious laughter, wobbly skates, and shared fun.
Arriving last Monday for an intensive time of orientation that covered a wide range of topics — from neighborhood tours to seminars on community, conflict resolution, Spanish language training, spiritual formation, First Aid, working with youth and more, to learning about servant leadership and even including a pool party — 14 high school and college-aged interns have successfully embarked upon the summer-long Global Footprints program with Mission Centers of Houston. While most of the summer interns are here for the first time, one 20 year-old elementary ed major has returned for her second summer commitment with Mission Centers of Houston.
Long-time East Texas residents, Wayne and Glenda Riley have dedicated just under a decade’s worth of faithful summer volunteer service to Mission Centers of Houston. “I’ve been partnering with the Mission Centers off and on since the late ’60s,” Glenda related during a recent conversation, “after Mildred McWhorter (the founder) came to church and spoke — and then I brought Wayne on board as well once we got married 30 years ago.”
“I’m so happy because, well, I love crafts! I love to do the things like making bird houses, you know? and cards and even the persuasive letters. I love the persuasive letters!” The enthusiasm in 10-year old Anna Karen’s eyes that belied her shy posture was reflected in the comments made by several of the other girls who will be participating in a special summer program at Joy Fellowship Center as headed up by program coordinator, Amanda Wilkinson.
Until several years ago, Mission Centers of Houston offered our pre-teen and teens’ programs an overnight lock-in every summer. In 2010, however, assistant director Haley Jones was struck with the realization that perhaps an even greater impact could be taking place beyond the constraints of a one-night event.
It is pretty amazing how a vision, a set of plans and a little hard labor can transform an empty plot of land into a spacious, welcoming patch of green growth. Shortly after the demolishing of an old building connected to the Gano Mission Center took place, assistant director Haley Jones began to dream about the possibilities the now vacant space could offer the community: a skate park? A summer-themed slip and slide on a large grassy area? It was only upon listening to a Sunday morning message about stewardship and resources, however, that Jones came to settle on the beautiful idea of a community garden.
Current board chair and long-term supporter of Mission Centers of Houston since the 80s, Marc Schwartz reminisced recently over his first experience volunteering at one of our centers. “I was standing back in the kitchen in Gano,” he related wryly, “boiling hot dogs.” Schwartz’s initial connection with Mission Centers came through his church, Memorial Drive Baptist, and an end-of-the-year school party that they helped to provide for some of our youth.
Despite her petite stature and calm speech, Tomasa “Tommie” Mendez — director of Joy Fellowship Center — is no shy wallflower. In the words of a co-worker, Tommie’s “tough love” approach in both her leadership style and her community interactions is a trademark feature testifying to her deep-seated commitment towards training others in responsibility, ownership and sustainable self-provision.
If you stop by our Fletcher Mission Center on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, chances are you’ll soon spot the trademark blue brim and handy clipboard of our one of our favorite community members-turned-faithful volunteer. Emilio, born and raised here in “H-town” as he refers to Houston, has been serving at Fletcher for the past year and a half.
“I think we might need more than just the two of us to unload everything,” the community missions pastor from a local church said with a wry grin. Minutes before, Adam (not his real name) had pulled up into our small parking lot at Gano and knocked on the door to announce the welcome arrival of a large food, clothing and toy donation.