Located in the Master Page
Beyond Our Brick and Mortar
Caritas of Waco was started years ago in the basement of First Presbyterian Church. Today, they are a thriving organization that provides help with food, clothing, household items, utilities, prescription medications, rent and mortgage assistance, temporary lodging and transportation. Caritas also have a strong case management program that works intensively with individuals to assist them in becoming more self-reliant and less dependent on emergency service programs. Each year, we love to stock the shelves of their food pantry in May to help them prepare for the high demand of summer months. In 2018, we will also support them with $4300 toward their emergency assistance programs.
Compassion Ministries is just down the street from First Pres, and provides transitional housing and basic financial education for homeless families in Central Texas. Over the past 23 years, their program has significantly impacted the number of homeless sheltered in our community. They have housed 3,278 individuals, including 723 families with 1,500 children. First Pres furnishes an apartment at Compassion Ministries, and our Presbyterian Women’s group keeps it stocked and set up for each new arrival. Each year, we are invited to attend the graduation ceremonies for the program, where we get to celebrate the families who have completed the program and are moving on to increase stability. In 2018, we will also contribute $3000 toward their operating budget and support services.
Family Abuse Center:
Each year in December, it is a highlight to fill up several cars with Christmas gifts for children and adults that the congregation has collected and to drive those over to Family Abuse Center. At FAC, they shelter victims of abuse and they work to prevent abuse through intervention and education. People make their way to FAC from across Central Texas, and Rural Advocates from FAC make their way to small towns to share their services with as many people as possible. Family Abuse Center surrounds people in crisis with care and security, and we are privileged to have them in Waco. In 2018, we will contribute $1500 to help cover transportation costs for people fleeing abusive situations in our area.
Mission Waco is a longtime partner of First Presbyterian Church. We love to volunteer in their Urban REAP Aquaponics Greenhouse, show up for a Service Saturday to help them launch new projects, provide food for Church Under the Bridge, or spend time talking about the gaps in services around Waco and consider how we might fill those gaps together. Mission Waco works to empower the poor and marginalized, to mobilize the middle-class to compassionate and responsible engagement among them, and to address systemic issues that impact the poor in our community. We are grateful for their presence in Waco and for the opportunity to support them financially and with our hands and feet.
World Hunger Relief:
World Hunger Relief has been our mission partner since 2013, and they teach us and the larger Waco community how to alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition through sustainable agriculture and community development. This year, they are involved in an exciting program called the Veggie Prescription Program where they partner with the Family Health Center in Waco to give people increased access to fresh vegetables and fruits. Doctors at the Family Health Center write a prescription to the patients they think could benefit from the program, and those patients receive boxes of fresh produce right there at the clinic. WHRI has already delivered thousands of boxes of produce to people who are excited to make positive lifestyle changes, and have just signed on for another year with the program. They are ramping up the farm for increased planting to provide even more boxes for the Veggie Prescription program in 2018.
The Cove is a new addition to Waco, who opened their doors in the fall of 2016. The Cove seeks to serve the over 200 homeless students in Waco ISD. Each day, after school ends, students make their way to The Cove for homework help, a hot meal, showers, laundry facilities, and access to counselors and social workers. In addition to those tangible needs that are met each day, the staff at The Cove also works to increase the number of homeless students who have access to a college education, to decrease youth unemployment, and to decrease the number of homeless students who enter the criminal justice system. The Cove provides a safe space for these students to dream big and work toward their ambitions. In 2018, First Presbyterian Church will donate $7500 to The Cove to hire a Clinical Social Worker for their facility.
Our Service Saturday in January of 2018 took us to Talitha Koum for a morning of cleaning and organizing. For those who have never seen it, Talitha Koum is a remarkable place in our own neighborhood. It is a therapeutic nursery working with infants and toddlers to help them navigate trauma and to rise above it. The teachers at Talitha Koum create a safe and warm environment for children who desperately need routine, nurture, and brain development. They also work hard to train the parents of these children, which means Talitha Koum has an impact on entire families in our community. When you walk in, you find classrooms stocked with special toys, art projects hanging on the walls, and employees who are delighted to work with these special families. This year, our Outreach Committee will donate $5000 to Talitha Koum to help pay for a Clinical Director of Sensory Integration. We continue to be amazed by their work and their commitment to helping children navigate trauma.
Alta Vista Elementary School:
First Presbyterian proudly sends tutors and pen pals to Alta Vista Elementary School each week of the school year. We show up not only to sit with students or write them notes, but to remind them that the larger community is behind them, to support the hardworking teachers in the building, and to share our energy, imagination, intelligence, and love with students many of whom are working to rise up out of poverty. We have planted flowers in front of the school, stuffed folders full of assignments to save teachers time, and sponsored Teacher Appreciation Week.
Meals and Wheels:
You may have heard us talk about Meals on Wheels during announcements in church, but not know exactly what they do. Meals On Wheels is a private, non-profit charitable organization that serves homebound elders in the City of Waco, McLennan County, Falls and Hill counties in Central Texas. Their mission is to nourish the bodies, minds, and spirits of older adults in the Heart of Texas through meals, activities, transportation, and volunteer support. Hot meals arrive to door steps all over town every day of the week, bringing with them a friendly face and a quick visit to homebound members who may not speak to many people each day. Transportation services help these seniors make it to appointments with doctors or to the grocery store.
At First Presbyterian Church, we have a longstanding relationship with MOW. For many years, we have delivered meals every Tuesday and Thursday to about 60 households. We have around 30 volunteers who distribute meals across 6 routes and take their jobs very seriously! We have some volunteers who organize the meals to be distributed, other volunteers who drive the meals all over town to their clients weekly, and still others who fill in as substitute packers or drivers as needed. All of us feel a great sense of satisfaction as we help those who struggle with hunger. Our kitchen hums with activity every Tuesday and Thursday, as we work to feed our neighbors, rain or shine!
In addition to this weekly work, the Outreach Committee also donates annually from the church budget to support Meals on Wheels. We believe it is important to contribute to this program that invests in serving our seniors so that they can live nourished lives with independence. In 2018, we will give $4000 to Meals on Wheels to help them feed and care for some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
We believe deeply that we, as people of faith, are called to serve our wider community and our neighbors, and we engage in this a number of ways. Each month, the Outreach Committee offers a different way to serve the community, some months through a Service Saturday at a Waco non-profit, other months by collecting needed items for area ministries. Throughout the year, members can expect a variety of opportunities to join in the work, no matter what your age or abilities. See the list below to get a more in depth look at some of our partners in the Waco area and the ways we support their important work.