Tag: City Engagement

Impacting our City – STARS Mentoring Project

Antioch_STARS Mentoring

The STARS Mentoring Project exists to mobilize the Church to step in and support the kids, families and schools of our community. STARS has helped hundreds of kids not only improve their reading and develop a love of reading, but also grow emotionally and socially. Throughout the last five years we’ve done Book Clubs in our two neighborhood schools, and they have been two of the three most improved in their reading standards passing rates in Waco ISD!*

This year, three elementary schools and two middle schools in Waco ISD are in a crisis, facing potential closure if they don’t pass state standards this spring.

WE BELIEVE THAT LOVING OUR NEIGHBORS MEANS STEPPING IN TO SUPPORT THEM WHERE THEY HAVE A NEED.

As a church, we have asked the schools what we could do to help their students improve this year. We delivered 1,300 books and reading incentives to these campuses, and all three elementary schools welcomed the idea of Book Clubs.

We then asked at Antioch’s college service for more Book Club volunteers, and had 40 more people sign up. This means almost 100 more students would receive reading help and mentoring through STARS Book Clubs. On top of meeting the principal’s requests, we were also able to give every kid in our neighborhood the opportunity to be in Book Clubs if they wanted. But that’s only the start of the impact!

At one of the new schools, Brook Avenue Elementary, the staff and kids were on board with our mission from the first day. While setting up the first mentors at the school, one of the kids asked, “Is this gonna help me with my reading scores? Cause I really need it.” The boy was in fourth grade, and already worrying about his scores not being good enough.

The mentor replied, “Not only are we here to help with your reading scores, but we’re here to be with YOU.”

As the semester progressed, Book Clubs became more and more popular, with students asking daily how they could join a group. One week, when Book Clubs had to move to the playground, herds of children crowded around each group to try to be a part of them. Upon seeing the chaos, I had to create a one-man human fence around the groups to keep the other kids from being disruptive. Even in the library, kids started trying to sneak in to join groups…as if they wouldn’t be noticed in a group of three.

Soon teachers at the schools began commenting on improved performance from the kids involved and expressed gratitude to us week after week. Just two weeks ago, a teacher approached me and told me how thankful he was for our presence in the schools. He said three of his students who were in Book Club had recently made the three highest scores on their reading test, which they had never done before.

THROUGH THE SIMPLE “YES” OF EVERYONE FROM COLLEGE STUDENTS TO RETIREES WHO ARE VOLUNTEERING WITH STARS, WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO STEP IN ACROSS OUR CITY TO HELP THESE STUDENTS MAKE IT.

In this process, we have built relationships and trust with students, teachers and principals, as we’ve shown that we believe in them and want to serve and empower them to succeed. Our impact has the potential to grow monumentally in the years to come due to a foundation that has been created this semester.

Our community presented us a major crisis, and guess who is helping fill it…the people of God. Way to go church!

*based on “STAAR Reading Percent at Approaches Grade Level or Above” indexes on Texas Academic Performance Reports

By McKethan Parker – STARS Staff

An Interview with City Councilman Dillon Meek – Investing in Waco

It is an exciting time in Waco, and we have the amazing opportunity to shape the future of our city! As the Church, we are called to engage in what is happening throughout the city and establish a Kingdom culture. We believe Waco is called to be a city set on a hill (Matthew 5:14). Now is the perfect time to fight for righteousness in our city and invest our time and energy into seeing it thrive. Our desire is for everyone in our church to live on mission, and there are many opportunities for you to carry out the Kingdom mission right here in our city. Whether serving within the church or in our city, you have an opportunity to love our city, shape the culture and make an impact!

WAYS YOU CAN BE INVOLVED:

PRAY FOR WACO // “Seek the welfare of the city” Jeremiah 29:7

  • Pray for our city leaders to be filled with wisdom from God on how to prosper our city
  • Pray for unity in families, and for children to be brought up in the ways of righteousness
  • Pray for the Kingdom to be established in our city

OPPORTUNITIES WITHIN THE CHURCH // We believe that the Church is the hope of the world, and we have the privilege to carry hope into every area of our city.

Impact Waco // Impact Waco exists to envision and equip our church to be acively involved in city transformation by meeting community needs in vulnerable and under-resourced areas.

Check out the opportunities to serve with Impact Waco:

  • Grace House Grace House is a long-term faith-based women’s recovery home that exists to bring holistic restoration to women struggling with chronic addiction.
  • Mercy House – Mercy House is a biblically based, one-year residential program that daily invests in men to empower them to live out their best lives – free from addiction, rooted in their worth and purpose and making a positive impact in the community around them.
  • STARS Mentoring Project – STARS is a program that seeks to build strength, resilience and hope in the children of our community through encouraging mentoring relationships and academic support. Through this we’re helping kids succeed in school and in life, which will be part of transforming their lives, their families and our community’s future.
  • UnBound – UnBound is Antioch’s anti-trafficking ministry that is mobilizing the church and activating local communities to fight human trafficking through prevention, professional training and survivor advocacy.
VOLUNTEER WITH IMPACT WACO

Other opportunities to serve within the church

  • Come Together This event provides an opportunity to build meaningful relationships across racial and cultural lines through open dialogue and relational activities. The next Come Together event is September 29th, and more details will be available soon. Sign up here.
  • Community Feast The Feast is a Thursday night gathering that provides “food for the body and nourishment for the soul” for the poor and homeless in our neighborhood. We share a meal together, worship and hear a sermon. Join us from 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in the Journey Room.

OPPORTUNITIES THROUGHOUT THE CITY // Our church has had the privilege to partner with many amazing ministries throughout our city like Mission Waco and CareNet. We believe in the mission of many organizations in our city, and want to support them as best we can. Today we have chosen to highlight a few “backbone” organizations whose primary mission is to organize, coordinate and unify the many non-profits in our city.

    • Prosper Waco – This is a collective whose mission is to build an environment in which all members of our Waco community are able to measurably improve their education, health and financial security. Prosper Waco builds upon the efforts of existing nonprofits and community leaders to measurably improve the lives of the people in our community.
    • Creative Waco – This is a nonprofit organization with a vision to grow and support a thriving cultural and creative community in WacoThrough partnering with various organizations, Creative Waco seeks to celebrate and support creative talent throughout the city.
    • Greater Waco Sports Commission – This is an independent, non-profit organization created to identify and attract new sporting events while enhancing and retaining existing events to generate positive economic impact and enhance quality of life in McLennan County. The Sports Commission carries the vision to help Waco realize its incredible potential due to its community spirit, location, premiere facilities and more.
    • Start Up Waco – This is a non-profit organization whose vision is to create a thriving culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Waco. They are dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs and innovators to build and grow successful businesses.
    • CampusTown Waco – The mission of CampusTown Waco is to connect young, educated professionals to the Waco community through jobs, internship opportunities and events. This organization operates as a part of Prosper Waco.

Another way you can make an impact is by engaging your Neighborhood Association. You can also apply to be on one of the City Boards and Commissions, learn more here.