In Houston, Texas, there is an extraordinary partnership between churches and schools that has been facilitated by the nonprofit Loving Houston. The organization was founded with the singular goal of helping churches meet the city’s needs, namely by reaching out to the children in Houston’s school districts. Loving Houston matches churches with the schools in their neighborhood, establishing connections so the two can work together to transform people’s lives through investment opportunities such as counseling, giving, and mentorship.
Marilyn Lee, the executive director of Loving Houston, believes that the nonprofit has grown because of the Lord’s timing and the leadership’s united commitment to collaboration.
“We’re all behind the same goal,” she says. “We want to empower kids and their parents to achieve what they want or need, and we also want to empower churches to come alongside schools in a collaborative partnership.”
The point is to share resources and expertise with each other. Parents overwhelmed by working long hours and caring for their children receive gentle guidance and support. In these COVID-19 times, families in dire need of toilet paper and soap get sent home with the precious supplies. Churches open their doors to children who need reliable Internet so that they can keep up with their education.
Angelica Almaraz, a wraparound services specialist with Houston ISD, attests to the power of these churches and schools working together.
“Moms with not much education are now teachers, and they just need more encouragement,” she says. “And everyone deserves dignity. The lack of self-esteem among children is a big thing, often made worse by struggling with poverty. Any items donated helps restore that dignity.”
One family had to resort to using socks for toilet paper. Because of churches and businesses who rose to the occasion and donated COVID supplies, this family did not have to feel shame anymore. Then there was a woman who spent a week homeless with her two children, a situation she tried to hide from concerned teachers and staff who tried calling and visiting her to check in. The school personnel pooled in money and furniture to provide two-months’ free rent at a new place for her. With their help, she successfully got back on her feet.
These stories are just a snapshot of the good work happening in Houston. Despite the awful effects of the coronavirus pandemic, selflessness and kindness are still making waves. Even though everyone is struggling in their own way and dealing with their own issues, let’s remember to extend a helping hand when someone reaches out.