Ministry Partners Help Churches Stay Vital and Relevant
Some three years ago, Willie and Bernadette Blair creatde the Southwest Glen Mission under the leadership of Covenant Glen UMC. Since then it has been set up as a 501c3 organization that brings ministry to local underserved children and families in apartment complexes in southwest Houston.
When Methodists are involved, ministry is often ‘mobile.’ The leaders behind the launch of Southwest Glen Mission knew the children and families in nearby apartments were at risk in several critical ways, so they have been literally “delivering” life-changing ministry resources to the apartment complexes on a weekly basis for the last several years. While children are the main focus, parents are also served by receiving greater peace of mind knowing their kids are receiving academic support, nutritious food, spiritual education and a great deal of love. Youth and their parents have access to education, counseling and referral services – on site.
All families expressing an interest in further spiritual growth are encouraged to join in worship and Bible study, or to participate in local church activities. Many of the family’s needs are addressed through the children to improve their education, communication, and spiritual direction.
Executive Director and Founder Willie Blair says, “With our supporters, our ministry partnership reaches an estimated 2,000 children in low-income families annually by providing much needed homework assistance and tutoring for multi-cultural, inner-city youth from ages 5 to 18 years old,” he says. Many of these youth are at-risk youth living in single parent homes. In this video, Bernadette Blair admits that her passion for this ministry grows much stronger with each passing year. “It is an incredible blessing to give children and families the resources to do well in life,” she shares.
Bridging to the Community
Ministry partners such as Southwest Glen Mission give churches an opportunity to bridge to the community. This organization blends a cross section of church members and community residents. There are four Covenant Glen UMC members on the board and at least four active member volunteers working alongside leaders from eight area corporations, several dozen from area universities, and several pre-med students. The ministry also benefits from the energetic volunteer service of a dozen or more apartment residents.
The mission’s Board of Directors operates as a hands-on, active group of leaders helping to staff the programs. Southwest Mission benefits from the help of certified teachers from various local ISD’s and trained volunteers from the community.
“Not only do we provide homework and educational assistance, we work to promote literacy via the Children’s Reading Library, and spiritual education,” adds Willie. “The WAM ministry (“What about me”) facilitates physical and emotional health for young women in the area of health awareness.” The “STEM” program reinforces science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills and spiritual education is threaded in all that they do, particularly the Kids KLUB (Kids Learning Unity Biblically).
“Southwest Glen Mission is conscious of the changing demographics in our service area, and is committed to enlarging and adapting our Mission to meet the emerging needs of the youth – right where they are located,” adds Willie. “As a result of Southwest Glen Mission’s involvement on site, participating students’ grades have improved, juvenile criminal activity has been reduced and gang related activities at the complex have decreased. Our overall goal is to have each apartment resident understand their purpose by sharing commonalities through education and friendship to enhance the communities in which they live.”
Recent Activities: Mission in Action
Volunteers took a group of girls to see the movie Hidden Figures and to NASA for an inspiring fun filled day. Adds Bernadette, “I think we have a few up and coming engineers and astronauts among us!”
Pre-Med student volunteers from the Texas Medical Center recently gave back to the community by helping with Homework assistance, Children's Reading Library and the outstanding "STEM" program headed by world-traveled engineers. Also planned for 2017, summer camp in July and a back-to-school backpack drive in August.
“SWGM’s greatest need is to have a central location to address needs in additional apartments in Southwest Houston,” adds Willie, “along with our ongoing need for volunteers and donations for programs and the STEM program.” The ministry’s greatest reward, is to physically see the children’s successes come to fruition. “This is the most exciting and rewarding experience imaginable,” Willie shares, “to witness growth and the uncontainable smiles and enthusiasm of both the child and parent as their children improve in grades and communication. Success on this scale fuels our ambition to expand the growth of Southwest Glen Mission tenfold.”