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Well folks, January is National Mentoring Month, and I think it is time that some of us step up to the plate and take our once-a-month-serving to full life engagement.

It is one thing to to do some work for a couple hours a month, it is another thing to change the trajectory of child’s life that would otherwise be destined to repeat a cycle of failure, poverty, and oppression.  If anyone should be leading this, it is the church.  We have a hope that no one else has.

So, we are teaming up Communities in Schools and Hands on Central Texas for 1 Hour For Kids in Zavala Elementary and Martin Middle School:

I know, I have the same objections:  I don’t have the time.  The location isn’t ideal.  Maybe next year when I have more time.   The truth is, none of these objections will ever leave, this is why they call it ‘sacrificial giving/living.‘  But more importantly, the time you have to give (1 hour a week), the distance you have to go out of your way in travel, and committing now as opposed to next year (which is always next year), is nothing compared to difference that will be made in the life of a child in need.

Why these schools?  Austin New Church is wanting to begin to invest in and enhance a local community, and what better way to do this than partnering with one of our churches – Soli Deo Gloria.  But for me, the statistics demand it!

Martin Middle School:

  • 91.6% of the students are considered Economically disadvantaged, compared to a state percentage of 55%
  • 4.8% are students with disciplinary placements which is double the amount of the states average of 2.3%
  • 63.9% are considered at-risk compared to the states average of 48.4%

Zavala Elementary:

  • 93.2% of the students are considered Economically disadvantaged, compared to a state percentage of 55%
  • 0.3% are students with disciplinary placements which is double the amount of the states average of 2.3%
  • 73.5% are considered at-risk compared to the states average of 48.4%

All you need to do is fill out this volunteer application, and lets make a difference in Martin and Zavala with our partners Communities in Schools and Hands on Central Texas.

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I met Armando about 2 months ago over some amazing breakfast tacos and great Mexican coffee.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that Armando was not only a genius in his line of work, but was very passionate about it.  In fact, on March 6th Armando will be doing a community project leadership training for Restore Austin at Austin New Church.  To find out more about the training, click HERE.  I asked Armando to do a guest blog for Restore Austin to kick our year off…enjoy!

Neighborhood Engagement – A balanced approach

I love it when people give back to their community, especially in neighborhoods. It’ a great way to connect with families, get to know neighbors and neighborhood leaders and you get to find out what the “real” needs are as well as understand what people truly want for their neighborhoods. Working in communities, I’ve seen resurgence in helping out neighborhoods from clean-ups and graffiti removal to starting community gardens and hosting potlucks or block parties. In Austin and across America, more people are involved in “neighboring.” The Volunteering In America report (link: www.volunteeringinamerica.gov/TX/Austin) shows that more people are working with neighbors to fix a problem and attending community meetings, but you don’t need a report to show you how people are engaged in Austin; just go outside and see for yourself!

Helping out neighborhoods is a great way to strengthen communities and this type of engagement can be successful if you use a balanced approach; balancing passion, needs and aspirations.

  • Take one part passion: what you care about – what drives you to create positive change
  • Add needs to the mix: what is the real need – the critical issues
  • Finish it with aspiration (or start with it!): what are the aspirations for the people living in neighborhoods – what do they care about?

We often times, just think of our passions and the need and we forget to ask what neighbors care about (I confess, I’m guilty of doing this in the past). Taking the time to ask people why they’re involved or what issues are important to them builds bridges and trust, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Ever wonder why some projects work in some neighborhoods and not in others? Part of the reasons projects don’t get traction or even work is because neighbors weren’t involved in the process; they weren’t asked for their input and so people don’t come out to support the effort. This is why it’s important to take the time to ask people what they care about; what their aspirations are for their neighborhoods and getting them involved. Taking the time to balancing these three approaches will help not only you with your project but neighborhoods in the long-run.

How will you incorporate this approach in your next project or maybe you have already? What did you learn? Pass it forward!

Adelante,

Mando

Director, Community Engagement – United Way Capital Area/Hands On Central Texas

VP, Engagement – Cultural Strategies

armando.rayo@unitedwaycapitalarea.org

www.unitedwaycapitalarea.org

www.handsoncentraltexas.org

www.cultural-strategies.com

www.elmundodemando.com

Thank you Mando, we look forward to this partnership!

On January 31st we are partnering with Communities in Schools, to do an Extreme MakeOver for Martin Middle School.  We will be going into Martin Middle School and making over a classroom to create a conducive and peaceful learning atmosphere.

In order to do this, there are a few items we need donated.  So if you have any of the following that is in good condition, please email our Extreme MakeOver facilitator at brettne@mac.com or susanafletcher@gmail.com.  The items we are in need of to complete this MakeOver are as follows:

  • At least 5 lamps with shades (they do not have to match but should be small or medium size)
  • 3 white noise machines or small ‘boomboxes’ that play cd’s (yes, I did just say boombox)
  • fake plants (2 trees & a couple of small table top plants)
  • throw pillows (we are going to recover the fabric to match the room, so they do not have to match)
  • 3 small end tables in a medium or dark wood and one coffee table
  • 4 office dividers (or knowledge of where we can get them for free or next to nothing)
  • 2 video game chairs or bean bags in brown or beige

Even if you are not going to serve at this particular project, it is a great way to be involved in adding to the learning environment of Martin Middle School

Thank you,

Matthew

Kingdom Saturation

For the past week the pastors at Austin New Church have been writing blogs that ultimately lead to one conclusion – live outside of yourself until it hurts! Continue Reading »

It seems like it was yesterday, that Brandon, Myself, Tray and our families sit around on a porch just dreaming about what it would look like to have a church that better resembled a mission of love into our city rather than a church service.  Well, Jesus brought that dream to fruition, in Austin New Church.  Below, is a glimpse at what Jesus has done through all of us who call Austin New Church home, and the several non-profit partners we have in this city.  We wanted to say thank you to all who has made this possible! Continue Reading »

Friends of Restore Austin, the following is a Christmas message from my friend, Chris Marlow.  He is the founder of HELP End Local Poverty.  This is a humanitarian organization that seeks to be part of the remedy to the orphan crisis, specifically in Zimbabwe.  I personally had the opportunity to visit Zimbabwe a couple years ago, and view the humanitarian damage that has been done by the government and economy.  If you are looking for a worthy cause to support, I can personally recommend, HELP. Continue Reading »

The following is an email I received from Mobile Loaves and Fishes.  I wanted to pass it on: Continue Reading »