Rebecca Walls is the Executive Director of Unite DFW, a ministry based in the Dallas metroplex that strives to “connect and equip churches and their partners to care for their people and communities.”
Christians and churches have a calling to love our neighbors, and there’s never been a better opportunity.
Children’s Health recently published its seventeenth edition of Beyond ABC, a comprehensive report on the quality of life for children in North Texas. Unsurprisingly, COVID has wreaked havoc on our youth.
The report contains many alarming statistics:
- Last year, our emergency rooms saw a 24 percent increase in mental health-related visits for children ages five through eleven and a 31 percent increase for older children.
- The Housing Choice Voucher program helped 27,022 North Texas families secure housing, with the average household served earning only $15,781 per year.
- Seventy-three percent of children in Dallas County public schools are eligible to receive free or reduced-price school meals.
Our children and families are suffering—but they don’t have to, especially in a place like Dallas/Ft. Worth, where there are ample resources and so many churches and loving Christians.
Imagine if every community were being looked after by a nearby church.
Churches won’t meet every need, but they can meet many.
Our schools need help
Church staff and volunteers can help kids and families flourish by walking alongside our neighbors and helping them access resources in the community. Some of those resources can be found in local churches, like mental health support, marriage or parenting classes, ESL classes, and food pantries.
But we can also help them find programs offered by the nonprofit, education, healthcare, government, and private sectors. This role is called a Navigator, and Unite and our partners have been training Navigators in several sectors over the past year.
For many children, school is their anchor, the supportive and nurturing environment where their academic, social, and emotional needs are met. Increasingly, it’s also where families’ basic needs are met. School staff members have always gone above and beyond to help their students, but they are at their breaking points.
They need help—and churches can give it.
Will you help our schools flourish?
Many of Dallas/Ft. Worth’s six-thousand-plus churches—churches of every size, denomination, and socioeconomic level, already serve families through public schools. Food scarcity, emotional wellness, foster care, racial inequality—almost any passion can be lived out within the context of a school partnership.
The key is for us to be passionate about our school staff, families, and children, and for us to care about them as people.
If this sounds overwhelming, take a deep breath. We’re in this together, and Unite has the partnerships and tools to help churches, small groups, families, and individuals get involved so that every school, staff member, student, and family has the support they need.
If providing such support to schools is new to you, we recommend starting by addressing food needs. That’s something everyone can get behind.
Additionally, if you’re a church member, you can be the spark that inspires your pastor to do this. They need to know their people are on board. Church staff and members can get started by visiting unitethechurch.org/joinus. We’ll walk you through options now and into next year.
We have everything our kids need to flourish, but it’s a matter of connecting the families and children who need help with the people who can give help.
Churches need to be first in line to do this, and we can help.
United, we can make a difference.