by Bob Bowker
Hill Country Community Ministries
by Bob Bowker
What HCCM is . . .
Hill Country Community Ministries is a nonprofit organization founded in 1983 by a coalition of local churches, including Cedar Park First UMC, with a vision to help meet basic human needs in the community. Pooling their resources, the organization set out to provide food, clothing and other assistance for people in crisis and those living in poverty, and to serve them with dignity and compassion in an atmosphere of neighbor helping neighbor.
Today HCCM is supported by 50 area churches and numerous businesses, civic organizations, schools and caring individuals. The organization serves ten ZIP Code areas in southwest Williamson and northwest Travis counties. HCCM is operated by a small paid staff and depends on the service of more than 250 dedicated volunteers to fulfill its mission.
Who HCCM helps . . .
HCCM’s clients are families and individuals facing hardship and crisis due to unemployment, family disruption, disability, chronic illness, aging or other emergency situations. While many suffer temporary or short-term financial difficulty, others are unemployable, and many are under employed, the working poor whose capabilities, despite hard work, cannot produce a living wage. HCCM provides assistance to eligible individuals living in our service area without regard to race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin or age.
What HCCM does . . .
HCCM operates a Food Pantry, Voucher Service, Referral Service and now a new Thrift Store in Leander. Cedar Park First UMC is focused on the Food Pantry that stocks non-perishable food and essential personal items donated by churches, businesses, organizations, schools and individuals. The former HCCM Clothes Closet, as everyone knew it, is now being replaced by the new Thrift Store. The Clothes Closet provided specific quantities of clothing, at no charge, to HCCM registered and verified as needing assistance persons. The new Thrift Store will continue that policy for those that are previously identified and registered. In addition, the Thrift Store will sell items to the general public, at very favorable pricing, as a means to generate revenue to offset operating costs. The Food Pantry is supplemented by food purchased from Central Texas Food Bank, the Dollar Store and H-E-B. Last year HCCM filled 4,200 family food orders, distributing more than 235 tons of food. That’s 391,000 meals! In addition, HCCM provides Hams for Hope at Easter and holiday turkey meals.
Serve with us . . .
If you would like to participate with us in this vital community ministry, you can
Quick pre-opening tour of the new HCCM Thrift Store (34 seconds).
Drive a Senior Northwest
by Bob Packard
Drive a Senior Northwest provides services that enhance the independence and quality of life for seniors in Cedar Park, Leander and northwest Austin. There are opportunities to be a driver, telephone a lonely elderly person, work in the office or volunteer at Senior Day Out. As a driver, you have the opportunity to select when, where and/or who to drive. Volunteer to drive when you can and don’t worry about it when you can’t. Children and grandchildren are welcome. Some trips are round trips and others are one-way. The seniors always appreciate a ride. To find out more information, go to the Drive a Senior Northwest website. To sign up call 512-260-5021 or email email@example.com, 10633 Lake Creek Parkway, Austin, TX 78750. Cedar Park First United Methodist Church members have participated in this ministry since the 1990s.
Meals On Wheels
by Bob Packard
Delivering a meal to a senior can be very rewarding. Meals are delivered 5 days per week. Some volunteer to deliver one day each week. Some do just one day per month. The meals are cooked, packed and ready for pickup around 10:30 or 11:00 am, The route varies between 10 to 20 meals each. It takes about an hour to deliver them all. Some seniors like to chat a bit and others are not so talkative. If you would like to participate in delivering meals to seniors call Carolyn Berry known as “Carrie” Berry at 512-259-0288. Write her at 351 N Bagdad, Leander, TX 78641 or email her using the button below. For more information visit the Meals on Wheels website. Cedar Park First United Methodist Church members have participated in this ministry since the 1990s.
by Jane Howard
A testimonial from a member of Cedar Park First UMC:
“One of my lifetime goals after retirement was to help children learn to read. This church fills that need for me through the Hill Country Ministries. Once you register through their Literacy Connection, they do a background check and give you three hours of training. That surprised me because I thought I already knew how to read. I have attended the training session twice now and each time I attend, I learn something new.
We are assigned to the Whitestone Elementary school and like all schools, you have to go on their website and fill out contact information so you are in their computer. Each school keeps track of all their volunteer hours, which is done automatically when you check in and out with the secretary.
The first year I read in Spanish and was keeping ahead of the kids by practicing on Duolingo, a free computer program for learning a new language. Since you are teaching them phonics to sound out new words, it doesn’t matter if you are working in English or Spanish.
This past year instead of the typical two student assignment of 15 minutes each, I had three. The students are selected by the reading team at school. These are not remedial readers, they are just at the lower tier in their grade level. At first the students are shy. They bring their reading assignments so they can read the first 7.5 minutes or until they finish, then we read the books I have brought. I get them from the library – another place to register your contact information, so you can check out books – or I bring them from home.
The students blossom under the individual attention. I have even had other students who see me at the doorway looking for my student ask if I could read to them. It is most gratifying.
Some books are their favorites and they want to read them over and over like Pout Pout Fish; Room on the Broom and Who is the Beast. One boy this year became so excited about reading he would read along with me as I read the book and he always wanted to know “what grade level is this?” When you read to them, you can read over their reading level. For one little girl, finally reaching the level to read a “book with chapters” was sublime.
The commitment is once a week for half an hour, usually with two students. Once the September training is completed, reading starts in early October and goes to the middle of May. And you get all the school holidays, so the time flies by.”
If you would like to participate in this rewarding ministry, please email Karen Packard.
LISD Backpack Program
by Glenda Morrison
Cedar Park First United Methodist Church continues to support the Leander Independent School District (LISD) backpack program.
This fall our church is providing backpacks of food for children at Whitestone Elementary to take home for the weekend. These are children who utilize the Texas Free and Reduced Lunch Program during the school week and whose families have limited resources. More than forty percent of the children at Whitestone qualify!
Each week Church volunteers pack the six backpacks with 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners, 2 milks, 2 fruits with 4 snacks each. All of these food items have been donated to the church. This quantity provides weekend meals for six children. The assembling and packing is typically performed on Tuesdays at 11:00am in the Sanctuary after the Tuesday morning Bible study has ended. Volunteers then deliver these backpack meals to Whitestone Elementary School before end of day on Friday. If you would like to join our efforts by providing food (or a donation to purchase food), packing the individual backpacks, or delivering them to the school, please contact Glenda Morrison or the Church Office.
by Peter Castles
Every third Sunday of the month, Cedar Park First United Methodist Church leads a 3:30 p.m. worship service for our friends who live at The Pointe, an assisted living facility in our area. We share scripture and story readings, offer prayers, and sing a lot of the good old-time hymns. Our older adult friends who live there are really wonderful, and we enjoy worshipping and sharing time with them.
by Karen Packard
The mentoring program sponsored by the Education Connection is supervised by the school counselor. Some children need extra attention because a parent has cancer, is struggling to make ends meet, is caring for extended family, etc. The mentor and child meet for ½ hour each week. Adult time spent one on one with a child can make a significant difference as you develop a trusting relationship and encourage the child to succeed.