During the past year, we’ve learned that many people have only a partial understanding of our organization, believing it to be limited to the food pantries and two visible, youth-serving programs: Back To School and Jingle Bell Express. While those efforts are essential, the organization’s work includes other services that provide a more comprehensive way to help people in need.
First, the two food pantries offer more than just food. They also provide financial assistance to prevent homelessness or substandard living; medical assistance (dental, prescription medication, optometry services) through collaborative partners; and clothing and personal hygiene items. These programs help people navigate their immediate crises.
Second, we provide two unique employment programs to help people to find work, develop and cultivate skills, increase their assets, and work towards a higher level of overall security. One of the programs teaches people how to become entrepreneurs. These services have a long-range impact on the job seeker as well as the children living in the home.
Finally, the Back To School and Jingle Bell Express programs are two outstanding youth-serving activities, but there is a third program: The Louise J. Moran Vision Care program. Last year, we screened the vision of 1,859 children and put glasses on the faces of 533 students. These three programs help parents to stretch their limited dollars.
For example, Bob is the father of three children. He and his wife both work, but he was laid off, leaving his family unable to pay for all their basic needs. We provided Bob food packages, paid a utility bill to keep the electricity connected, connected him to a temporary job, referred him to another agency for vocational training, and coached him on ways to reduce monthly expenses. Today he’s back at work in a permanent job. His family did not lose their apartment or go hungry.
When community members like Bob find themselves in need, they often turn to churches for help. Churches want to help – it is part of our faith’s DNA to care for each other. Yet, churches do not always have ample staff, time, and resources to provide social services on their campuses. It also makes little business sense for every church on Westheimer or Bellaire Blvd. to operate its own social services program – that model only creates a duplication of services.
Christian Community Service Center (CCSC) was incorporated in 1980 by six churches with a vision that remains relevant today:
- to be an extension of each of its member churches in serving the needy
- to pool resources and energy into an efficient, knowledgeable and steady nonprofit
- to provide a place in which a person in crisis could receive in-depth assistance
- to provide an organized way for people to volunteer together, based upon shared values
All programs are run by a professional staff who maintain CCSC’s commitment, mission and values. They train and guide the volunteers to carry out the day-to-day responsibilities. Today, 42 congregations are united in service through CCSC, and dozens of civic and business partners contribute to its cause. Yet most importantly – the community member who has lost her job, received a scary medical diagnosis, or experienced some other life-changing crisis has a faith-based place to reach out to for help.