New Day

Texas congregation reaches out to homeless children congregation

August 6, 2009

A task list of a New Day participant which includes "Don't drop out."

A task list of a New Day participant which includes "Don't drop out." —Photos courtesy of Grace Presbyterian Church, Arlington, TX

ARLINGTON, Texas

Editor’s note: This is the latest in a series of stories about congregations engaged in significant outreach and evangelism ministries, reflecting the General Assembly’s commitment to “Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide.” — Jerry L. Van Marter

Four years ago, a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in South Arlington attended a meeting about homeless kids in the Arlington schools.

About 2,000 students live in cars, with friends, at a flop house motel, and on the streets. They still have the desire to finish school despite the obstacles.

The "No Child Left Behind" Federal Law enacted in 2002 classifies them as "transitional students." Funding from that law provides two meals a day while at school.

After sharing these facts with his church of 275 members, the consensus was that something had to be done because no one else was doing anything. NEW DAY — a program to Nourish, Encourage, Witness as Disciples to Awesome Youth — began. The church teamed up with Venture High School, an alternative school, to provide food supplies for weekends and holidays to the those struggling to stay in school.

Every Friday, the church delivers to a school administrator 24 bags filled with 10-15 non-perishable items contributed by its members to distribute to the transitional students. Recently, the church has started to deliver fresh fruits on Mondays to supplement the diets of the pregnant students and others.

To support the growing program, a distribution shed with a refrigerator and air conditioning has been built on the church property. Grace-Arlington, has raised funds to provide $1,000 scholarships for those wanting to attend college.

Another spinoff has been another program for needy families staying at the local Salvation Army housing for the poor. The children are invited to church on Sunday afternoons for a meal, mentoring, play & fellowship.

Since a float in Arlington’s 4th of July parade promoted the ministry, teachers from other high schools call when a need is noticed. The church works to respond.

Knowing there are homeless kids in other schools as well, Grace-Arlington is encouraging other churches in Grace Presbytery to join their effort to rescue at-risk kids.

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