Category Archives: Nonprofit Spotlight

Police move homeless people off Philadelphia streets ahead of Pope Francis’ mass

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By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

PHILADELPHIA – As crowds moved into the city for Pope Francis’ large public Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27, the Homeless_man_in_Philadelphiahomeless are heading out — part of a high-security lockdown forcing people off the streets.

According to a story by Alex Jacobi for the Religion News Service (RNS), the displacement of the homeless comes amid the pope’s repeated calls for greater income equality and social inclusion of the poor.

He told members of Catholic Charities during his Washington, D.C., stop Sept. 22 that there was “no justification whatsoever for lack of housing.”

Then the pope lunched with homeless people in the nation’s capital, forgoing an invitation to dine with members of Congress.

More than 1 million people converged on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for Sunday’s Mass, an area where thousands live in makeshift shelters, RNS reported homeless advocates said.

In all, about 5,500 people live on the streets of Philadelphia, according to Project Home, an advocacy group for homeless people.

Police said everyone, not just the homeless, was being evacuated from certain areas and said it was for “security purposes.”

Yet some within the homeless community felt targeted.

Jason Taylor, a homeless Philadelphian, was collecting donations Sept. 24 to take a train to New Jersey or suburbanPope_kisses_young_man_in_Philadelpia Philadelphia. RNS said he was hoping to avoid the police sweep.

Others aren’t leaving quite so easily. Joe McGraw, who’s been on the streets since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979, said this year’s security is much more intense.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

“It wasn’t like this,” McGraw said. “They (now) shoo us away.”

McGraw said he understands the irony of homeless people being forced to make way for an event by a champion of the poor.

According to RNS, Sue Smith, vice president of residential and homeless programs for Project Home, police are working with homeless advocates for a smooth transition.

“It is not a matter of keeping homeless people out of the parkway,” said Smith who was helping the police with the effort. “It is just an unusual protocol.”

The homeless were also “hidden” from the Pope in his visit to Manila earlier this year. It was a move that caused considerable controversy.

Photo cutlines: Top, Jason Taylor, a homeless man in Philadelphia. (Religion News Service photo by Alex Jacobi). Pope Francis kisses and blesses Michael Keating, 10, of Elverson, Pa., after arriving in Philadelphia and exiting his car when he saw the boy, Sept. 26, at Philadelphia International Airport.

Contact Jeremy Reynalds at jeremyreynalds@gmail.com.

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I am Second short film highlights Jeff Fisher’s walk to salvation

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Nonprofit, Pepsi MidAmerica collaborate to give fans VIP game-day experience with longtime NFL head coach

By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

When NFL fans think of Jeff Fisher, the moustache and cool sunglasses come to mind.

But now, Fisher has provided an enduring image of himself – son of the Almighty.

In a bonus short film released by I am Second, Fisher, who is entering his fourth season with the Rams, takes his place on the ceremonial white chairI am Second Jeff Fisher to detail the walk that eventually lead to his commitment to our Savior.

The Plano-based nonprofit announced Aug. 17 it is collaborating with Pepsi MidAmerica to offer fans the opportunity to win a VIP sideline experience with coach Fisher. Fans can enter the text-to-win and online contest between now and Sept. 30. Four winners will be chosen to receive a VIP prize of two suite-level tickets to a St. Louis Rams game, hotel accommodations, a meet and greet with Coach Fisher, a stadium tour and Saturday field passes. Entries are being accepted now at http://www.pepsimidamerica.com/iamsecond/.

“We are excited to be partnering with Pepsi MidAmerica for the first time to offer fans an inside look at NFL life from a coach’s perspective,” said John Humphrey, director of communications. “We want to give viewers a never-before-seen perspective via the film but also help create an experience they will never forget.”

In his testimony, the coach candidly admits a hurtful event that took place in the pews when Fisher was approximately 8 years old.

“I had this moment in church which I think really, really turned me off,” he said.

Fisher recounts how monsignor corrected his behavior with a hint of aggression and little explanation.

“It terrified me; I was in complete shock,” he said. “This is where my journey began.”

The spiritual void remained with Fisher, as he experienced success in collegiate and professional football as a player with USC and the Chicago Bears, respectively. Fisher’s coaching career – his 20th – isn’t exactly shabby either, as he spent 17 seasons as head coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. Fisher’s Titans played the team he now coaches, St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.

“In my world, there’s never time to figure out what is, in fact, missing,” Fisher said.

In 2010, Fisher’s life was about to change for the best. One day, a friend asked Fisher an important question: Do you honestly believe that Jesus Christ is his Lord and Savior?

At the opportune moment, Fisher was rescued from the drudgery he experienced, the part of him that longed for more than a successful NFL coaching career.

Sadly, according to Nina Thompson, author of Church Hurt Ain’t No Joke, what Fisher experienced happens to children and adults. She said she hasNina Thompson encountered many people who are the way Fisher used to be: they avoid Him and church out of fear of being hurt again.

“Church hurt is anything other Christians do to interrupt others’ closeness to God,” the Ferguson author said. “We need to be very careful that we are not concerned with the pettiness while, at the same time, we maintain structure, process, and ceremony in the church.”

After viewing Fisher’s I am Second testimony, Thompson said the chastising Fisher encountered as a child is an example of the pettiness she discusses in her book.

“Why chastise him for something as small as that?” she said. “Church became unattractive to him, solely because of one bad experience. Why become associated with something that brings pain?”

Thompson said she is grateful that Fisher’s friend opened that door of knowledge of God.

“Early on, he didn’t get that God is his helping mate and that he doesn’t have to exist in his own strength.”

Humphrey said Fisher’s reaction to the events that happened one day in church is not foreign.

“It is sometimes common for people to form an opinion like that based off those experiences,” he said. “Jeff’s story is an honest portray of a new believer who is sorting how to grow in the walk with his Father.”

Calcasieu Youth Organization seeks employers for job fair; Outcry 2015 coming to several cities

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Lake Charles – Due to the recent concern of economic growth and correlated employment level in the Lakeriot conference Charles area, the Calcasieu Youth Organization (CYO) will sponsor a career job fair, from Monday, June 29 to Friday, July 3 at the Lake Charles Civic Center. The fair will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is sponsored by Sasol North America.

Karew Records recording artist Jonathan Nelson will entertain during the Revival In Our Town (R.I.O.T.) Conference on June 29. Cost is $25. Employers interested in being a part of the fair should contact Pastor Larry Miles, president of CYO, or his wife, Linda, at calcasieuyouth@yahoo.com or (337) 309-5075 to register. There are no entry fees for employers. Deadline is Friday, June 26.

In Baton Rouge – Registration is under way for Masterpiece Kids (Ephesians 2:10), a summer arts camp, sponsored by First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, 529 Convention St. The camp is scheduled for July 6 to July 10 from 8 a.m. to noon daily. Cost is $10 per child. For kids completing kindergarten through sixth grade. Register online at First Baptist.trailer movie Brommers Kiek’n

In Irving – Interested in becoming a foster parent? The Bair Foundation Child and Family Ministries will hold an orientation on June 25 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at its office, 4425 W. Airport Freeway in Irving. Call 972-957-0030 for more information.

Outcry Tour 2015 is coming to the following cities on these dates: Pittsburgh (July 25); Washington, D.C. (July 26);Hillsong UNITED Greensboro, N.C. (July 27), New Orleans (July 29); Nashville (July 30); Atlanta (Aug. 1); Miami (Aug. 2); St. Louis (Aug. 4); Tulsa (Aug. 5); and Houston (Aug. 6). Performers vary by location and include Hillsong UNITED (pictured right), Kari Jobe, Bethel Music, Passion, Lauren Daigle, and Trip Lee. Guest speakers include Nick Hall and Shaun Groves. For ticket information and venue locations, visit www.outrytour.com.

In Katy – The Katy Christian Women’s Connection will host monthly Prayer Connections on July 9 and August 13 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.  Join in praying for our family, friends, military, city and country.  Please call 281-232-8338 for locations.

Submit church and nonprofit events, Christian concerts, and fundraisers to Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com for publication.

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Communities of faith to converge for TogetherLA; Tebow hits links for charity

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Tim Keller

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Feb. 26-Feb. 28

In Los Angeles: Key leaders from non-profits, churches, businesses, and communities in the Los Angeles area will convene beginning Thursday, Feb. 26 forTim Keller real-time collaboration, prayer, networking and strategic partnering. The free gathering is set to take place at West Angeles church of God in Christ, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd in Los Angeles.

Dr. Timothy Keller, lead pastor of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, is the slated main speaker for the three-day conference as well; all other speakers will be active leaders in the Los Angeles area. Speakers include Bishop Charles Blake, Dr. Barry Corey, Mark Labberton, Mayor Aja Brown, Efrem Smith, Caitlin Crosby, Tim Chaddick, Albert Tate, Larry Acosta, La Verne Tolbert, Michael Mata, Tom Hughes, Father Greg Boyle, and many more.

For more information, go to www.togetherla.net or email connect@togetherla.net.

March 15

In Ponte Vedra, Fla.: Tickets for the annual Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic are still available online. The event will take place at TPC Sawgrass inTebow Foundation Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Gates open at 9 a.m., with shotgun starting at 10 a.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for 18 and under.

March 22-March 29

Aboard Freedom of the Seas: Back to the Bible Canada, a world-wide ministry based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, will hold its second annual Bible Canada/Laugh Again ministry cruise. Author, speaker, and humorist Phil Callaway will serve as a special guest for the voyage. The seven-day cruise will leave you smiling, refreshed, inspired and renewed in your walk with Christ. To register, http://www.laughagain.ca/cruise-2015/.

Direct Relief jets deliver supplies, medications to West African health facilities affected by Ebola

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

Direct Relief-chartered Boeing 747 jets departed Los Angeles International Airport on Feb. 4 carrying more than $7 million in prescriptionDirect Relief Ebola Supplies medicines as well as supply modules to sufficiently equip 83 health facilities in Liberia and Sierra Leone that affected by Ebola, according representatives for the nonprofit organization.

The supplies – expected to supply the facilities for several months – will help restore medical facilities weakened by the worst outbreak of Ebola in history.

With the substantial decrease in new Ebola cases in recent weeks, the airlift represents a pivot toward helping local health facilities deal with both the pre-existing health challenges exacerbated by the outbreak as well as the still serious threats that Ebola presents.

According to Andrew MacCalla, director of emergency response and international programs for the nonprofit medical relief organization, dozens of primary care facilities shuttered during the crisis; malaria and other conditions went untreated; vaccination programs were suspended, prompting a recent measles outbreak; and pregnancy-related complications saw an uptick as more women gave birth at home.

“As the focus shifts to long-term health systems strengthening in West Africa, these items will help restore confidence in health care for both providers and people seeking care,” he said.

Each module contains 36 of the essential supplies needed to operate a functional medical clinic for two months, including items such as surgical gowns, gloves, masks, lanterns, medical disposal bins, and non-contact thermometers. The contents were developed in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ministry of Health of Liberia, and Last Mile Health.

The supplies contained in the modules were donated, in part, by the city of Yokohama, 3M, BD, California Nurses Foundation, and OneMillionLights. Additional supplies were purchased through a grant from The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

Another 17 modules will ship later in the month for a total of 100 modules. In Liberia, 40 modules will be distributed by Last Mile Health. In Sierra Leone, 10 modules will be distributed by Wellbody Alliance and 50 modules will be distributed by Medical Research Centre. Prescription medicines contained on the airlift will also be delivered to all three of these partners, as well as to Africare in Liberia.

The pharmaceutical supplies were made possible by Accord Healthcare, Inc., Actavis Pharma, Inc., Bayer Corporation – USA, Baxter International, Inc., GSK, Hospira, Inc., Mylan Laboratories, Inc., Prestige Brands, and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Since Direct Relief began responding to the Ebola outbreak last spring, the organization has sent 40 shipments of Ebola relief aid valued at $25 million (wholesale), which have been distributed to more than 1,000 clinics and health centers in West Africa, in coordination with partner agencies.

Pastors, faith leaders from around country gather in Dallas to promote racial healing

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST and the ASSIST News Service

DALLAS, TX – A racially, denominationally, geographically and generationally diverse representation of nearly 100 pastors, civic and faith-Alveda King and James Robisonleaders from across the country gathered for an unprecedented summit on racial reconciliation at The Potter’s House in Dallas on January 15.

Convened by Bishops Harry Jackson and T.D. Jakes and Pastor James Robison, “The Reconciled Church: Healing the Racial Divide” summit focused on Seven Bridges to Peace and included four panel discussions in which the participants shared practical solutions that they have successfully implemented in their respective communities. They also strategized other initiatives that can be scaled for national roll out.

According to a news release from A. Larry Ross Communications, host Bishop Jakes welcomed attendees, saying, “The Church should lead the way; we can’t complain about Congress and community if we don’t communicate with one another. We all love our children; let’s talk about how we can make our country better for subsequent generations.

“We have one brief shining moment to say, ‘not on my watch,'” Jakes continued. “We cannot remain silent on this issue, because our silence is costing lives. I’m praying that we would care enough to do better with the resources and influence that we have.

“We can’t fix the problem today, that’s not even the goal,” Jakes added. “This is a forum for discussion and debate, but we need to focus on what we will work on, including education and the criminal justice system. We can do better regarding civic engagement in our churches.”

Bishop Jackson shared his vision for the summit, to encourage the Church to come together to address the three-fold problem of class, race and poverty. “Church leaders need to go up into the gap and be courageous and catalytic to make a difference,” he said. “We want to leave here with a declaration, a challenge and a prescription for our nation.

“The Church is divided black and white, and not as connected as we should be,” Jackson continued. “The first thing we can do is come together united as the Church. A group like this can shake the foundations of the nation – for God and for good.”

“With all my heart I believe the purpose of this meeting is to bring together the Body of Christ without all of the dissension, strife and division that keeps us apart and from fulfilling the will of God,” James Robison said.

Other key participants included Dr. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta and daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.; legendary civil rights leader; Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. King, and a civil rights activist and Christian minister; former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young; Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference/CONELA; and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, among others.

Several participants admonished the Church for not taking action. “Today’s complacency is tomorrow’s complicity,” Rodriguez said. “There is no such thing as a silent Christianity.”

This theme was echoed by Pastor Jack Graham, senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. “There are a lot of good people in our churches who are sinfully silent,” he said. “It is our responsibility to engage them on what matters most.”

The timing of the summit was propitious, occurring on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, actual birthday, which was referenced by his daughter. Reminding attendees that her father was a pastor and that the Civil Rights movement originated in the Church, she thought it a fitting tribute to his legacy that faith leaders were once again taking the lead in the area of racial reconciliation.

“The Church was one of the institutions (my father) criticized in his letter from the Birmingham jail,” King reflected. “He was deeply disappointed that there was not more engagement by the Church in the issue of segregation in the South at that time. Unfortunately, we have had a stand-off posture since then, and 11 a.m. on Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America.”

“Today we had four ‘Cs’ of Christ, conversation and collaboration that will lead to change,” said African Methodist Episcopal Bishop Vashti McKenzie. “The Body of Christ came together in unprecedented conversation. We must be role models for people who look to us for leadership.”

The day’s events concluded with a worship and communion service at The Potter’s House, which was attended by more than 6,000 individuals.

One-hour documentary to chronicle Jim Harbaugh’s mission trip to Peru

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Jim Harbaugh holds one of the locals' baby.

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

SAN FRANCISCO – For the first time since San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has made his annual pilgrimage to Piura,Jim Harbaugh holds one of the locals' baby. Peru, camera crews have been allowed to follow him.

On Sept. 2, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area is set to premiere an exclusive, one-hour documentary that chronicles Harbaugh’s annual mission trip.

The first airing of the documentary, slated for 9 p.m. PT, titled “Peruball: Jim Harbaugh in South America,” will take an inspiring look at the humanitarian side of the San Francisco 49ers head coach.

The documentary is narrated by Comcast Bay Area’s Dave Feldman and produced and edited by Sean Maddison.

According to a press release provided by Comcast SportsNet, for eight days, the missionaries helped at the parish of Santisimo Jim Harbaugh talks football with children in the Piura. Sacramento with its daily community outreach programs and ministries for the people of Piura – a small town almost 600 miles north of Lima. Sixty percent of the population lives in poverty and 20 percent is in extreme poverty.

The documentary reveals Harbaugh’s dedication to his faith in God, his craft (coaching and playing football), and helping others.

“It’s beyond rewarding; it’s a chance to do something good,” Harbaugh said of his recent mission trip. “You can pretty much help someone from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.”

Along the way, impromptu games of “Peruball” – a combination of football, rugby and soccer – seem to break out everywhere Harbaugh goes, a game where the rules to evolve each day and with each person who plays it. Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback, taught groups of Peruvian boys about American football, put them through running and catching drills, and thenJim Harbaugh kicked off games of “Peruball.”

The group of humanitarians included Harbaugh’s older children – Jay, who works on the offensive coaching staff of the Baltimore Ravens (coached by Jim’s brother, John), James Jr. and Grace – Feldman and numerous volunteers.

The group built houses, visited the sick and elderly, delivered food packages to an orphanage, worked the rice fields, and attended daily Mass with the locals.

Harbaugh first learned about the mission trip through friends at St. Raymond Catholic Church, his parish in Menlo Park, Calif., and has made the annual trip since 2009. An American priest, Father Joseph William Uhen, has been the pastor of Santisimo Sacramento since 1993 and coordinates the charitable efforts for his parish.  The parish’s outreach includes a women’s shelter, an orphanage, a drug rehabilitation center, a hospice facility and a tuition-free Catholic school for children in kindergarten through 11th grade.

“Peruball: Jim Harbaugh in South America” re-airs later that evening at 11:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4 at 3:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5 at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13 at 10 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14 at 10 p.m., and Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 4 p.m.  All times listed are PT. Visit CSNBayArea.com for additional air dates and times.

One pup at a time: Project2Heal changes lives of children, adults

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Charlie Petrizzo

By Charlie Petrizzo
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: Project2Heal breeds and trains service dogs and companions and donate them to service organizations around theCharlie Petrizzo U.S., free of charge. The organization has sent dogs to help those in need all over the country, from children with autism to wounded warriors. According to Petrizzo, founder of the organization, the name Project2Heal reflects the fact that the greatest project ever undertaken to heal was when God sent his only son to save the world from sin. “Each of us has a project to heal and it’s only when we find the talent that God blessed us with that we will find true happiness,” Petrizzo said.

Why did you create your business?

“I faced two life-threatening injuries before turning 20. When I finished college, I married Sandy, the love of my life, and my injuries continued to bother me, both physically and emotionally.  I questioned my faith and my career as a Fortune 500 executive, and I slipped into depression. I took a leave of absence and through a period of healing, reflection and time spent with a special puppy, I started to become myself again, and I returned to the Catholic faith. I sought spiritual wealth above all and God showed me the path of service and healing from an unlikely source: puppies.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“Two scriptures have played an important role in making me who I am today. First, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13) and second, ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.’ (Rev 3:15) There have been many times when I’ve looked at my injuries and asked myself, ‘Why me?’ I struggled to find faith in God and myself. Founding Project2Heal has helped me rediscover God and grow in the confidence and strength of his love. I consider myself a blessed man, and the scriptures have helped outline my path as I continue to get to know God my Father.

What the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Use the gifts God has given you to help others. I have a gift for working with animals and using them to help people heal. That’s myproject2heal_logo Project2Heal, but we each have a Project2Heal that we can harness and share with the world. Take advantage of your talents and use them to serve God and your community. If you make mistakes along the way or lose faith in yourself, just remember that God is always looking out for you, that he loves you, desires good for you and wants to use each of us to tell others about His love.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“One of our amazing success stories involves a marine from Indianapolis named Nick Bennett. While deployed in Iraq, Nick’s unit was unfortunately struck by a rocket and he was seriously injured. Twenty-six surgeries later, Nick’s hands and legs are repaired, but the actions that used to be stress-free, such as tying his son’s shoes or attending a baseball game with his family, incited much fear and anxiety due to Nick’s PTSD. We bred a dog named Festus to help Nick, and Festus received additional training from the Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN). With the help of Festus, Nick is now able to be the father that he always wanted to be.”

Learn more about Project2Heal online: http://www.project2heal.org/. Nominate for nonprofit spotlights via email at pewnews@aol.com

 

Paths of purpose: Boys to Men mentors young men of color

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By Tera Alston
Special to Inside The Pew

On a daily basis there are thousands of young men of color entering into the prison pipeline. In some cities across our country it

Terrence Alston

has even become an epidemic. Young men of color are being incarcerated in alarming numbers with some studies showing more young men of color being incarcerated every year than graduate from high school.

The million dollar question is: What can be done about this ever-growing epidemic?  There is no quick and easy solution. We are dealing with a complex issue that will require an all hands on deck solution if we truly want to make any type of positive and lasting impact.

Over the years there have been programs instituted to assist young men who appear to be heading down the wrong path. Training programs such as pro-social skills and violence prevention have been instituted in schools and community-based programs. However, it can’t stop there. Additional methods are needed to help rescue the growing number of boys and young men of color entering the prison system.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

A great place to look for these solutions is to research ideas that have proven to work and change lives. One of those solutions is mentoring. There are many studies which show young people who have mentors are more successful throughout their lifetime.

Although 1:1 mentoring is most commonly known, there are other forms of mentoring that can also be used. For example, group mentoring can be used to provide a safe environment for participants to discuss issues with their peers and their adult mentors.

There is one group in Chesapeake, Va., that utilizes this approach to help boys and young men turn away from the path to prison towards paths of purpose.

Boys to Men is a Christian-based ministry at Union Bethel Baptist Church. The ministry reaches out to boys and young men, encircling them literally and figuratively by older men in the church. The organizers also encourage fathers to participate in this circle of mentors. According to Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, there is a “…need for black boys to be surrounded by older, black role models.” Boys to Men has done just that by providing a circle of role models to mentor not only boys of color but any boy or young man in need of a positive role model.

The mission of Boys to Men is simple says Terrence Alston, one of the group’s leaders: “our mission is to mentor and mold young boys and young men…to encourage unity; teach respect for oneself and others, and most of all…to teach young boys and young men to be strong upstanding men in the eyes of God and in their communities”.

Alston is a proponent of mentoring and a supporter of reaching out to young men who are at risk and are on the threshold of the prison pipeline.

The ministry was started in early 2000 by the late Pastor Calvin White. Pastor White tasked the church deacons to become involved up close and personal in the lives of boys in the community. According to Alston, “he wanted us to be their role models instead of rappers and athletes; he tasked us to teach them how to be men.”

As a collective group, the boys and men discuss topics such as anger management, peer pressure, the dangers of drugs, bullying, success in the classroom, their future, dressing for success, and how to explore their feelings. Part of the group’s focus is also based on biblical principles, which is highlighted in their pledge which the boys recite at the beginning of each group. Part of the pledge reads, “I will live my life based on God’s word…Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You” Psalm 119:11 (NKJV).

The outcomes are proving that the group’s approach is working. This year, several participants graduated from high school and college and one entered the military. This helps to show that what we see and hear on TV is not true about all boys and men of color. They can succeed and are succeeding towards paths of purpose.

For more information about this ministry, contact Union Bethel Baptist Church at 757-488-3117 or email Terrence Alston atTera Alston mccann1983.ta@gmail.com.

Tera Alston is a women’s ministry leader and human resources professional in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.  She also partners with her husband to assist at-risk youth and their families.  She has a BSBA from Old Dominion University and an MBA from Saint Leo University.

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Through crowdfunding, WeRaise equips nonprofits to serve communities

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By Abigail Miller
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s Note: Abigail Miller is manager of crowdfunding and social media at Wheat Ridge Ministries. WeRaise is a Christian crowdfunding site, hosted by Wheat RidgeWeRaise_Homepage Ministries. Wheat Ridge provides start-up funding and resources to new health and human care ministries around the world. Christian organizations use WeRaise to share their ministry project details, spread the word, and raise funds – all online!

Why did you create your business?

“We built WeRaise as a tool for inspired Christian leaders to raise funds and support for their ministry ideas. Our long term vision is to provide additional grant funding to innovative projects launched with WeRaise that are positioned to scale, replicate, or expand. We want WeRaise to be a tool, which is why, unlike many crowdfunding sites, we don’t take any portion of the funds raised. Our hope is that WeRaise allows leaders to be innovative, creative, and intentional when it comes to addressing the needs in their community.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“One verse that captures the essence of WeRaise is 1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” We know that each community is different – the leaders, the people, and the needs. It is encouraging and inspiring to see the brilliant, selfless ways people use the gifts they’ve received from God to serve those around them. Crowdfunding uses the gifts of the whole community – from donors and their financial resources, to project teams and their social networks, to organizations who give energy and commitment, to Wheat Ridge staff members who help the process run smoothly. WeRaise equips people of all ages to put 1 Peter 4:10 into action.”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Seek counsel and support! When we work with WeRaise project leaders, this is one of our key pieces of advice. Crowdfunding is a group effort – not just in fundraising, Crowdfundingbut in planning as well. As projects are created, we encourage the leaders to establish a prayerful, committed team to work through the entire process together. Together you can seek God’s will, encourage one another, and hold each other accountable.

“Another piece of advice is to be confident in what God is calling you to do! If it is on your heart, it might be time to take a step out in faith. We have seen many successful ministries come out of a small nudge that someone heeded. God can do big, life-changing things through just about anything – no matter how small, insurmountable, or just plain crazy it may seem to you right now.

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“WeRaise currently boasts a higher project success rate and higher average donation rate than the industry average. We think this is due to the nature of the crowdfunded projects. The passion behind the projects is inspiring, and donors are eager to give to leaders who bring health and hope in the name of Christ.

As an organization, Wheat Ridge has had the honor of seeding many ideas that have grown to become amazing ministries. A few organizations that began with funding from Wheat Ridge include: