Conversations with Purpose
November 24, 2020
It started with a conversation, as most serendipitous connections do.
The pastor of a partner church mentioned that TMF gave grants to nonprofits that were agents of change. Since TMF grants empower nonprofit leaders to creatively impact their communities, particularly children and youth living in poverty, by supporting sustainable solutions that transform lives, the pastor believed Change Happens would be an excellent fit for a grant. She encouraged CEO Helen Stagg to make a connection and see what happened.
Helen acted on that encouragement and had a delightful conversation with Jacki Lammert, TMF’s director of grants. When Change Happens started in 1989, it was focused on helping people with drug addictions in Houston. As it expanded, it shifted to a holistic program that prevented students from taking a path that included substance abuse. It was a perfect fit for a TMF grant and the timing was even more perfect.
“We had a disaster plan in place when the pandemic started, but it did not cover this type of extended crisis,” Helen said. “We were looking at our community and realizing how devastating this could be, so we took the opportunity to be innovative. We pivoted and used TMF funds to provide meals to families and PPE to people who were homeless in Houston’s third ward.”
Their continued conversations with church partners helped them receive referrals for families who needed assistance. They provided food boxes to 160 seniors and 180 families in their area. Additionally, they created PPE packets for the homeless. Each packet included a mask, hand sanitizer, hand washing materials for those who did not have running water, and gloves. Change Happens was able to distribute 220 PPE packets to protect homeless people in the middle of the pandemic.
Beyond food and PPE, Change Happens leaders also worked to find families who needed mortgage and rent assistance. Homelessness during a pandemic increased a family’s risk of being infected drastically, so Change Happens had more conversations with other organizations, gained additional funding, and assisted over 300 families, preventing them from becoming homeless.
Those conversations, whether simple or in-depth, long or short, with new partners or old ones, spurred connections that changed lives during the worst emergency our country has faced in decades, bringing hope to hundreds of people.
“From a spiritual perspective, TMF demonstrated the love of Jesus. TMF helped vulnerable people through their grant. Moreover, TMF was responsive to help address a need in the community when people were suffering. We have a call to lessen suffering, a responsibility even, and TMF set an example of service during this chaotic time,” Helen shared. “When our partner churches see this connection with TMF, I believe it will remind them how important their support is at this critical moment. I believe it will drive them to act.”