Many Houstonians don’t know where to turn when they find themselves in dire straits – lacking food, clothing and money. In their time of desperation, many of them turn to the Christian Community Service Center.
The center is a coalition of 38 Houston-area churches joined together to form a community-based non-profit organization with more than 1,900 volunteers serving more than 25,000 Houstonians. As a member of the Better Business Bureau, the center received an Honorable Mention in a new non-profit organization category in 2001, was the outstanding small Houston-area non-profit organization in 2003 and was awarded the Pinnacle Award for “superior commitment to ethics, overall excellence and quality in the workplace” in 2005.
Helping neighbors get on their feet, Emergency Services provides a three-day supply of food, clothing and limited financial assistance to disadvantaged Houstonians. A resource book is maintained to ensure clients are referred to agencies that provide long-term assistance. Emergency Services aided 19,051 people last year; 51 percent of them were children. For those assisted by Emergency Services, the aid provided is a godsend.
For the unemployed and underemployed, finding a job can be a frustrating process. The CCSC’s JobNet program alleviates some of this frustration by providing a computer learning center, business periodicals and use of office equipment and supplies. Jobseekers also find computer training, career/resume consulting, mock interviews and job search coaches at JobNet. Last year, 663 unemployed and underemployed clients were assisted by JobNet, and 54 percent of their clients found employment.
For needy Houstonians with an entrepreneurial spirit, the Martha’s Way program provides training to prepare participants to run an independent housekeeping business. This program provides the education, hands-on training and support needed to get started. With technical and business skills training available, graduates are prepared to effectively operate their own business. With help from the Martha’s Way program, 60 clients became small business owners in the field of domestic housekeeping last year.
Back to class
Houston children faced with starting school without basic school supplies and clothing turn to the CCSC Back to School program. Each participating child receives a voucher for a new school uniform, shoes, gently worn clothing and school supplies. The registration and distribution process takes two days so that qualifying children get the supplies they need quickly. The Back to School program assisted more than 4,000 children this past August to ensure their school year started off on the right foot.
Many disadvantaged children’s Christmas dreams are turned into reality through the Jingle Bell Express Program. This program enables parents to “shop” the Jingle Bell Express “store” and choose one or two toys for each child, and they also receive books, including a Bible. The family is then given food for a real holiday meal. This program currently provides Christmas cheer to more than 3,000 children from more than 900 families.
Due to financial constraints, many underprivileged children are unable to get vision screening, but the Louise J. Moran Vision Care Program is trying to change that by offering eye screenings at many HISD elementary school campuses for qualifying children. Follow-up exams are provided by the University of Houston’s University Eye Institute. Last year, 105 children received professional eye exams, and 94 students received new prescription eyeglasses. Several students had scratched corneas and other severe conditions that could have led to partial or complete blindness if not discovered.
Shop with a cause
At the Sunshine Resale Shop, the CCSC is able to raise funds to help those in need and also provide quality clothing and household items for families on a limited income. Volunteers sort, price and sell donated items, which accounted for 27 percent of the 2004 revenue. The Sunshine Resale Shop is a wonderful way for the CCSC to raise funds and help the community at the same time.
The Christian Community Service Center appreciates all donations and offers various ways of giving. Monetary and clothing donations are always appreciated (especially larger sizes!). You may also help the CCSC by shopping at Kroger or Randalls with a Share Card available at the CCSC. Additionally, there are many volunteer opportunities available for individuals and groups. H