Men's Breakfast Report, October 2009
The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, October 10 with Meredith King and Becka Ryder of True to Life Ministries. Meredith is the wife of the assistant pastor at First Assembly of God Church in Freeport. She graduated from Texas A&M and has worked as a consultant organizing training meetings and seminars for various companies. When her husband was called to Freeport she quit her job to come here and has used her organizational skills to set up True to Life Ministries.
Becka is a member of the Assembly of God congregation. She told of her life growing up with an alcoholic mother and being often homeless and unable to attend school because of her mother’s dysfunction. She eventually went into the Brazoria Youth Home and graduated from Brazosport High School. Her experience as a child needing the services that True to Life Ministries and other organizations provides is the reason that she is so involved with the Ministry.
The most visible program that True to Life Ministries provides is the Backpack program.
There are about 200 homeless children in the Freeport area. These children do not have a permanent address to return to each night and often stay in places without a parent present. They will usually crash at a friend’s house for the night and will go from one friend to another. Their main meals are provided by the school lunch and breakfast programs. The Assembly of God Church provides an evening meal once a week and is encouraging other churches to provide other meals. These students do mot have a source of food for the weekend, which the backpack program seeks to remedy. The backpack program provides each homeless student with a backpack filled with no-prep food each Friday to tide the student over the weekend. The student returns the backpack on Monday. Backpacks have been provided by a successful businessman who was homeless as a child. The program has been used in other cities, including Houston. The ministry has implemented the program in Brazosport High School with the aid of the student council, who fill and distribute the backpacks. The ministry is setting up pilot programs in an intermediate school and an elementary school. The logistics of these programs is different from the high school since student volunteers can not perform packing and distribution. The ministry is studying the Houston program for ideas. The program needs money for buying food to fill the backpacks.
The ministry also operates several other programs. The Lifestyle program serves disadvantaged women who want to get out of a life of dependency and become self supporting members of the community. It provides training in life and job skills such as résumé writing, and how to dress and act at an interview and on the job. It also provides training in financial management, relationship and parenting skills. These women are applying for entry level and relatively low level jobs. In spite of the poor economy these jobs are still readily available even though high level jobs are disappearing.
Another program is Masterpiece which provides at-risk youth exposure to the arts and encourages their creativity.
Lifeline is a program that provides mentors to Lifestyle and Masterpiece participants. The program is looking for people to volunteer a few hours a month to provide support and wisdom to these people.
A final ministry is Intermission. Once a month women meet at Ricochet Billiards to talk about life issues, relationships and God. The primary audience is women who think that they are too sinful to come to a church.
True to Life Ministries is, of course, in need of funds. Meredith works there full time and several volunteers work there part tim, including Becka and a bookkeeper. They are in desperate need of office space. They are able to use some church facilities, but these are not really suitable or adequate.
As usual, the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next meeting will be November 14 with Mario and Lola Maldonado of the Salvation Army as featured guests.