“Here I am, Send Me”

Date Posted: 12/10/2015

There was something for everyone during a three-day blitz of activities at Lakewood UMC, Houston’s Weekend of Service. This fourth annual event offered a “menu” of service opportunities, allowing members to select one or several activities to do, based on their schedules and interests. Lakewood UMC also uses this opportunity as an “entry ramp” to allow members and guests to know about and connect with ongoing ministries by providing contact information for easy access.
 
A Look at Logistics
“We have three program coordinators and other staff leaders, each of whom takes some responsibility in identifying projects, then finding a person or persons to lead each project,” explains Jennifer Gros, communication director. Once those leaders have been recruited, the leaders determine how many people can serve in the project and whether or not there are any restrictions on who can serve (such as age limits). Some of the projects require advance fundraising, and that is also the responsibility of the leader and others recruited to help. Many projects are funded through or sponsored by Sunday school classes and other existing small groups.  Adds Jennifer, “We promote the Weekend of Service through the church bulletin, posters, our website, social media, emails, and printed brochures. We solicit people to sign up in the Commons area on Sunday mornings, and also online.”
 
Here is the menu of projects the volunteers served up:
Great Grub
Cooking ministry alert! Lakewood Men's Group served up some of their great grub at an appreciation lunch for the staff at Matzke Elementary School on Friday, September 25.
 
Habitat for Humanity
On Saturday, September 26, members dedicated the 14th Lakewood-sponsored Habitat for Humanity home in the Hamill Crossing subdivision.
 
Reuse/Recyle
Volunteers at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore worked to receive and redirect new and used home and building materials on September 26.
 
FOOD 4 FRIENDS
FOOD 4 FRIENDS gathered in the kitchen at Lakewood on September 26 under the leadership of Melanie Chaya to prepare casseroles for use in various ministries.
 

Flowers for shut-ins
Members of the flower ministry helped to spread some sunshine by visiting homebound members of the congregation. Under the direction of Mary Jane Cunningham, they brought fresh flowers and a few words of fellowship.
 
Gift of Life
Lakewood members donated blood at the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center on Sunday, September 27.
 
Bells will be Ringing
The Chancel Choir and adult hand bell choir, JuBellation, performed for residents of local nursing homes on Sunday, September 27 as part of the Bells will be Ringing project.
 
Children’s Teddy Bears
The Children's Choir performed in all three services on Sunday, September 27, and presented teddy bears that they had collected. The teddy bears were blessed by pastors and were given to local police officers to give to children in crisis.
 
Stock it
The Horizons Sunday School class led this project to stock the new kitchen at The Life Center for the Homeless, one of Lakewood’s ministry partners. This class collected disposable goods, pots and pans, as well as cleaning supplies and non-perishable food items, to help defray some of the daily operating costs of this shelter.
 
Perk up the Preserve
This group helped by assisting with trail maintenance on Saturday, September 26 at the 100-Acre Wood Preserve off Jones Road (just a mile from the church). Along with a local non-profit conservation organization www.BayouLandConservancy.org. The work included invasive plant species removal and bike trail enhancement.
 
Feed the Homeless
The Pathfinders and Visions classes sponsored a trip to feed the homeless as part of LUMC’s Without Walls ministry on September 27. They went downtown to distribute meals and share fellowship near Minute Maid Park.
 
Students Sharing and Caring
Middle school students made and delivered blankets and craft kits to patients at Texas Children's Hospital in Katy.
 
Kids can help too
Kids were instrumental with two projects especially for little ones. They created colorful cards to be given out with lunch bags distributed as part of the 249 & Hope ministry, serving the homeless in the area. They also colored placemats to be used as part of Lakewood’s Kairos prison ministry. This event was supervised by Mingo Williamson and Peggy Launikitis. 
 
Love Letters 1
In Founders Court, volunteers wrote letters of encouragement to Matzke Elementary School teachers. Thanks to all who encourage those who serve kids in your community.
 
Love Letters 2
This project was designed to share words of support with military service personnel by penning a letter or card to someone on active duty.
 
Stop Hunger Now
The volunteers at this project in Asbury Hall prepared over 10,000 individual meals to be distributed to those in need in third world nations. This project took place on September 27 and was sponsored by the Young Adults Bible Study and Fellowship group and assisted by Senior High youth and United Methodist Women. Participants mixed bulk quantities of food and bagged them into individual servings.
 
Troop Goody Boxes
Volunteers enjoyed preparing TROOP GOODY BOXES for military members on active duty. Volunteers donated items to be included in the boxes and then helped to assemble the boxes on Sunday, September 27. 
 
What made this weekend special?
“I think that the number of volunteers that participated this year was really extraordinary,” shares Jennifer, “and doing the 10,000 meals was a new project for us. It was very special because so many people of all ages helped make it happen. It was a very exciting event and we were all so proud of what we accomplished together for the Lord.” 
 
Brandy Hertsenberg says, “I led the Stop Hunger Now event alongside the Monday Night Young Adult Bible Study. We had a great time planning and organizing this event and would love to do it again in the future but on a larger scale. We had approximately 120 total volunteers participate and it took about an hour to set up, an hour to package 10,000 meals, and 30 minutes to completely breakdown. It was so wonderful to see all ages of volunteers from preschoolers to retirees working together for this event.”
 
Rev. Daniel Childs adds, “As part of the Weekend of Service, “Our 20s|30s Bible Study group took on the challenge of raising money and coordinating volunteers to help out with 'Stop Hunger Now,' an organization that packages and delivers meals to underprivileged children and families around the world. After some fund-raising through a bake sale and a yard sale,
all of the money was raised. We accomplished a lot and had fun doing it!”
 
The Hunger project was high school student Gabi Sarmiento’s favorite part. “I participated by weighing a rice and bean mixture to make sure each meal had approximately the same amount. Then, the baggies of food were sealed and packaged. I choose to be a part of this project because I believe it is important to provide food for those in need and this project was an opportunity to do that in an efficient way. I think it is great that Lakewood dedicates a weekend to service because it brings the congregation outside of our church and gives us the opportunity to make a difference and show others the true love and
power of God.”
 
Member Melanie Chaya adds, “There were approximately 12 volunteers at Food4Friends. We worked for 2 hours and created 23 casseroles to share with members in need. There was lots of laughter amidst the chefs!” Sandy Baumgarten says, “We had 10 people from Horizons Sunday School Class go to Life Center for the Homeless in downtown Houston to deliver food, kitchen cookware, and storage containers that our Sunday School class had purchased with donations from church members. It was an easy event to organize and implement. The Life Center folks were thrilled to receive everything.”