Mission Amarillo began as an apartment ministry to affordable housing communities in June of 2001. Originally a ministry of the Amarillo Area Baptist Association, Multihousing Outreach recruited churches to begin bible studies in these communities through Amarillo and Hereford. For the next 9.5 years, Multihousing Outreach facilitated these ministries in as many as 17 locations in this area.
As a result of these bible studies, other ministries were developed to help meet needs that were noticed in these communities. Donations of school supplies and Christmas presents were coordinated and given away to over 800 kids in over 200 families each year. As time went on, a need for shoes was noticed, and in April of 2010 what is now the shoe closet was started. The demand was so great, it became evident that the demand for shoes would go beyond what only the Baptist churches in the Amarillo Area Baptist Association could provide. In the fall of 2010, Multihousing Outreach filed the appropriate paper work with the IRS to become a non-profit organization.
In February of 2011, we were notified that our non-profit status had been granted retroactive to November 2010. The name of the new non-profit would be Amarillo Mercy Ministries dba Mission Amarillo. That first year, our shoe closet gave away over 1000 pairs of shoes and we received donations from churches all over the city of Amarillo. By May of 2012, we had expanded service to all AISD schools that needed shoes. By the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, we had included Bushland, Canyon, Highland Park, and River Road schools in our service area. As of this writing, the Mission Amarillo shoe closet has given away over 8,500 pairs of shoes since the shoe closets inception in April of 2010.
As we continued to work with churches in the affordable housing communities, a frustration began to grow due to the frequent turnover in these communities. Just as relationships were established, residents would move, causing our volunteers to have to start all over again. We began to seek out ways of having long term impact on those we dealt with so that we might be able to facilitate healthy change in their lives. This would also provide a more stable opportunity to make disciples.
The best way we found to have a long term impact on those we encounter is through a relationship that is long term, as well. In late 2014, we began our first mentoring program, Driven, for young men ages 18-25. In the fall of 2015, we became the only agency in the state of Texas to host the Parent Child Home Program, which does home visits twice a week and models good parenting behavior to moms of 2-4 year olds. To round out our mentoring offerings, in the fall of 2016, we began Be-Loved, a mentoring program for teen moms. All of our mentoring programs last a minimum of 14 months. We sincerely believe that mentoring provides the long term opportunity to influence young people toward positive change in their lives as well as ample opportunity to show them the impact a relationship with Jesus has on the mentor’s lives.
Another change we made was in the way we conduct our school supply and Christmas projects. In the past, we simply gave them away. This provided very little exposure to the families and seemed to rob them of their God given dignity to some extent. In 2014, we transitioned to an affordable model for both projects. Parents are able to purchase school supplies and backpacks for $10 per student and are able to purchase $50 worth of Christmas presents for $10 per student. Since we’ve made this transition, the families have responded incredibly well. The pride the families exhibit when they are able to pay for these items show that they are being honored as people created in God’s image and for his glory. Our 2017 Affordable Back to School Store helped 328 kids and 572 children received affordable Christmas presents through the Affordable Christmas Store.
As the mentoring programs and affordable stores grew, it became necessary for us to transfer our apartment ministry to Mission 2540, a local non-profit that specializes in work in affordable housing. They have done an excellent job in these communities and it has allowed us to focus on long term mentoring solutions for those who need them. As of this writing, 11 young men have received a car through Driven and 6 of them are still meeting with their mentor, 29 children are being blessed by the Parent Child Home Program and 14 teen moms are receiving mentoring and encouragement through Be-Loved. While our numbers are lower than when we were doing apartment ministry, our effectiveness has gone through the roof as we now have opportunity to have long term impact to the students participating in our programs.