By Dawson Bley – En Español
Standing between Milby High School and Deady Middle School, Mission Milby is positioned in a prime location to impact students and families in one of the most underserved communities in Houston. A nonprofit ministry designed to improve the quality of life through education, support and encouragement, Mission Milby has served as a steady source of hope for the past 20 years.
“I love helping at Mission Milby because I want the children, youth and families in the community to have an opportunity for a better life,” said Chair of the Board of Directors, Dr. Will Reed. “Our heart is about trying to make more things possible for those folks and empowering them to do it for themselves.”
In the area where Mission Milby is located, there are plenty of opportunities to help. With neighborhoods representing some of the lowest per-capita incomes in Houston and less than 50% of adults having a high school diploma. Mission Milby feels a deep need to step in and change those statistics.
“Seeing needs has prompted us to look for a solution,” said Reed. “A lot of times the solutions are not our own, but they include partnering with or establishing a nonprofit specifically for that purpose.”
While Mission Milby’s physical building was originally found in a state of disrepair, it has since been refurbished to host many programs and partnerships that benefit the community. One of its programs pays students at Milby High School to mentor students in Deady Middle School, both in the Houston Independent School District. This allows the older students to establish a bank account and offers the middle schoolers teaching, guidance and a familiar face when they eventually enter the high school themselves.
“We try to stand behind the folks that represent the community and already have those direct relationships established,” said Reed. “It’s all about partnerships and working together to make things happen.”
Some of Mission Milby’s other strategic partnerships include Justice for All Immigrants, Clothed by Faith and AARP. Additionally, Mission Milby hopes to implement its mentorship program in other disadvantaged schools, targeting those located near Clear Lake United Methodist Church in the fall. Whether providing legal counsel, clothes donations or tax services, all of Mission Milby’s partnerships seek to offer resources that will lead to success stories in the community.
“For a while, one student was flipping burgers and doing manual labor. Now he is in the pharmacy tech program at the University of Houston,” said Reed. “These kids are understanding that education is important—no, vital—to get out of the situation they are currently in. Being with these kids and seeing the light bulb go off is incredibly rewarding.”
With the help of its partnerships, Mission Milby has witnessed an improvement in the local graduation rates and seen several students and families escape a multigenerational cycle of poverty. While these outward results are encouraging, Mission Milby’s top priority is an internal transformation.
“Our motivation to do this is the love of Christ,” said Reed. “In some cases, that’s explicit. In most cases, it’s implicit. But our motivation to be there comes from our hearts, our faith in Christ and the love of God.”
Although Mission Milby is addressing the needs in Houston neighborhoods, it is representative of the needs that are present all across the world.
“If we don’t do our part to help make the world a better place, these communities will continue to replicate the cycle of poverty… We’re trying to disrupt that cycle,” Reed said. “By focusing on just one generation and providing opportunities for income and education, together we will change the entire community.”
Editor’s Note: During the work week, Dr. Will Reed serves as the Properties Manager for the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. On his days off, he volunteers his time and is Chair of Board of Directors at Mission Milby.