Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Note From Tracy Hipps: What's In A Name?

This morning, I read in Numbers where Moses changed Hoshea’s name to Joshua which means “The Lord is Salvation.” As I was studying more deeply into the meaning of names in Scripture, I came to Jesus, whose real name was “Yahushua.” Several times in Scripture, names are changed: Abram to Abraham and Simon to Peter.  Given names meant something highly significant in ancient days, while today, we associate meaning and movements with names people are given. For instance, we relate Billy Graham with evangelism; Rick Warren with purpose; Martin Luther King Jr. with Civil Rights; and George Washington Carver with invention.

Tracy interviewed by WIAT before
the CSM Mother's Day Luncheon
Today, we think of names as branding and we all work hard to get our name out there. This past weekend, we sponsored our annual “Love for Moms” Luncheon where more than 100 mothers were served and encouraged. The TV news filmed the event and the speaker but CSM was not mentioned. Nevertheless, we were all pleased because at the end of the day, Jesus was glorified and lifted-up.

In 1971, the Christian Service Mission was formed with the idea to serve the poor. Today, CSM is still living out its name with Christian values while “Serving People on Mission for God” here in Birmingham. CSM is now a brand but I want to always be known by our values, mission, and service to people. Yes, we do “connect resources to needs,” but more than that, we are about connecting people to people.

Tracy's favorite popsicle
"happy face" drawing
by one of the students
This month, we have seen 1,300 moms impacted by our Mother’s Day senior home program where churches partnered with nursing homes to love on the Moms there. We served another thousand
families through our food ministry. We mobilized hundreds of volunteers to touch lives all over the city through a Wells Fargo Service Day and we have hosted many other volunteer groups.

We have seen the “Miracle Pops” become a reality to serve more than 800 students in Pinson and sent snacks to more than 800 students at Woodlawn High School, which were distributed by our partners. And in all that we do at CSM, we do it, in the name of Jesus.

I must be embarrassingly honest… as I have listened to the news the last couple of months, I kept hearing “POTUS” in the news and had to look it up to learn the meaning. When I looked at Scripture today, it said “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” The power is in the name, and here at CSM we represent the greatest name of all time— “Yahushua”!

CSM has been around 46 years and has made a great impact in Birmingham and beyond. Thank you for being a part of CSM and glorifying the name Jesus with us.

CSM Celebrates Moms in a Big Way

 2017 CSM "Love For Moms" City-wide Luncheon

This past Mother's Day weekend, in partnership with South Highlands Presbyterian Church, we celebrated Mother’s Day with long-planned events designed to lavish love and appreciation on women who are connected to our partners throughout the city. Some of these women may be forgotten, alone or struggling in other ways. This year’s  Mother’s Day luncheon was attended by over 100 women; some brand-new moms, some now elderly, and some even homeless or in ministry shelters. Church members had arranged lovely centerpieces in the magnificent dining hall, and volunteers scurried to set the tables and make certain everything was perfect when the guests arrived.

The Yellow Bicycle Catering provided a delicious hot meat, beautifully plated by volunteers in the kitchen (dishwashing expertly handled by volunteer and So. Highland’s member, Pam Buck). CSM staff and volunteers graciously welcomed the ladies who came as guests with our partner ministries and organizations, and then served them throughout the luncheon. 

LaShundra Smith tells her story
We all enjoyed an amazing and heart-wrenching program, with music powerfully sung by former Birmingham Police Chief, Annetta Nunn, who now serves as the Domestic Violence Task Force Director with the YWCA Central Alabama. Through her passion to help women who are victims of domestic abuse, Annetta met LaShundra Smith. LaShundra shared her testimony of God’s grace and protection for her and her four children the night her (former) husband went on a rampage and shot her twice, leaving her to die and refusing to call for help all night. When help came in the morning, she was paralyzed from the waist down. That was ten years ago, and today LaShundra is able to speak words of encouragement and hope from her wheelchair. Her children are all thriving and high-achieving living testimonies to LaShundra’s indomitable spirit and faith in God. There was not a dry eye! 

The ladies left with full hearts, a gift bag with a hand-made card from our young volunteers and a red rose from CSM. On the same day, we ministered to 1,300 moms with our Mother’s Day senior home program with partnering churches delivering our gift bags, cards and food to nursing and elder homes so they could love on those precious and often uncelebrated Moms living there. This was a very special Mother’s Day weekend for us, because CSM HEARTS MOMS!

Heartfelt Mother's Day cards lovingly made by CSM volunteers
over the past few months  for the women we honored
at the luncheon and at the various senior homes
Our MC Deborah Foster
Gift bags filled and ready, each complete with
a handmade Mother's Day card 
Jamie makes certain each place setting is perfect
South Highlands Pres volunteer event director Debbie Perkins
gives the servers last minute instructions
Westwood Baptist Women's Ministry team ready to serve
CSM event coordinators and hostesses -
Rhonda Marshall (l) and Jamie Barnhart (r)
So. Highlands Pres. Pastor Hurley greeted Deborah and all the ladies
Speaker LaShundra Smith with Annetta Nunn
Servant spirits making the day special for each lady

Michael Bowen working the crowd
The "Newest Mom" door prize winner
A full house filled with smiling faces.

... and lovely ladies

Annetta Nunn sings and briefly shares about domestic violence issues
Tracy encouraging and honoring LaShundra for
her faith and amazing dedication to her children
Flowers for everyone!

A big smile from our beloved Mrs. Venita Wesley (with her crew)

Calling For Summer Snack Donations!

We are collecting individually wrapped snack items, the healthier the better, to serve more than 500 children in summer camps! Our inner-city churches say, “When school is out, we are in!” So let’s help them feed and love on these children, many of whom are food insecure, or there is not enough money in the budget for additional treats!

You can drop off snack items at CSM headquarters, 3600 3rd Ave S, Bhm 35222. We will share them with our ministry partners, who in turn, share the love of Jesus with hundreds of kids over the summer. Thank you for your sweet kindness!

VHHS Students Make Big Impact at CSM

Michael Bowen congratulating three of his faithful workers from VHHS
For the last several years I have had the opportunity and privilege to work with groups from Vestavia Hills High School's "School to Work Program". Each group has a job coach that brings the kids to us every Thursday during the school year to work with us on whatever tasks we have for them that week and that has included gardening, sorting food, creating care packages for students and the elderly, writing Mother's Day cards and a whole bunch of other projects.

CSM is honored to be a partner with VHHS
and humbled to be honored by them!
This month I was invited to represent Christian Service Mission at the VHHS "School to Work Program" Awards Day in Vestavia, and had the opportunity to present a CSM certificate of achievement and a t-shirt to the students who have worked with us all throughout the year! When I arrived, the place was packed with family members, teachers, faculty members and other organizations that have allowed the students to work with them throughout the year as well. All of the 30+ students have been involved in a work-force training opportunity during the school year and have had the chance to work each week with a handful of different ministries and local businesses, as well as with the school lunch program to help provide meals to their fellow classmates.

It has truly been a blessing to me to get to know these young men and work with them each week. We have a ton of fun, and there is not a week that goes by that I don't laugh at least a hundred times while we get a lot of work done in a short amount of time. They are great to work with and have been a great part of our team at Christian Service Mission! Thanks for all of your help guys, and we will see you next year!

Michael Bowen
CSM Volunteer Coordinator

A packed house!

CSM Certificates of Achievement for these hard working guys.

Amazing Vestavia High School students with big hearts and wide smiles.

STAIR Graduation!

STAIR students from Oliver Elementary honored for their achievements
One key partnership within the education ministry of Christian Service Mission is STAIR Birmingham. STAIR is on a mission to improve reading skills and self-esteem of second graders through one-on-one tutoring. Reading proficiency by the third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Unfortunately, 80% of children in the city of Birmingham miss this crucial milestone every year. With the help of dedicated volunteer tutors, STAIR is now serving 170 students with 91% success in reading score increase.

Norman and Janet Dixon. Norman Dixon, CSM Special Projects Manager, and CSM Staff Volunteer Director, Michael Bowen, and CSM spring semester intern, Matt Azemar, poured into the students as tutors at Oliver Elementary School this year. Norman’s wife and retired educator Janet Dixon is the acting STAIR Birmingham Director, and Norman also serves as the STAIR Assistant Director.

The recent graduates of the program were recently recognized in a year-end ceremony, indicually addressed by their tutor. As well, all the college graduating tutors were presented with a copy of the book, “Oh the Places You will go” by Dr. Seuss, a perfect send-off!

CSM Intern Matt Azemar with the student he tutored this year
STAIR Director Janet Dixon (l) with CSM weekly front desk
volunteer, Eula Jackson, who also tutors with STAIR 
CSM Volunteer Coordinator Michael Bowen

A Starry Night with CSM at eMeals

CSM and NRS in the eMeals kitchen

One of our impact partners is New Rising Star “The Star” in Eastlake. The women of the church are positioned to move in the community with a strategic approach to women’s ministry, and have embraced our new healthy eating and lifestyle education program initiative we have been developing a healthy in partnership with food authority and key partner, eMeals.com. 

Candice Beavers, NRS
We are working on details to implement the new “Cooking Well” program within the context of our many strong community relationships, with plans for starting this . We are finalizing plans to launch the new community outreach health education initiative at NRS “The Star” and True Vine Church this summer with pilot six-week sessions. Recently, Christian Service Mission and eMeals hosted a teaching model workshop and think-tank dinner for women from NRS. Dr. Thomas Beaver's wife Candice brought a few friends who she identifies as potential leadership for the program to explore together how to bring this is essential benefit to their community.

Following the teaching model we plan to implement, we learned helpful cooking techniques while we prepared a meal together in the eMeals test kitchen. eMeals founders, Jane DeLaney and Jenny Cochran planned the dinner recipes directly from an eMeals menu and taught the cooking session. As we waited for the food to cook, Jane shared her vision for family bond and nourishment around the dinner table. eMeals clinical dietitian, Andrea Kirkland, shared a wealth of nutritional and food knowledge with everyone. 

Then everyone gathered at the table to enjoy the meal we had prepared together, with open minds toward each other, new foods and the challenge to be intentional about health at home and intentional parenting. The enthusiasm for the new “Cooking Well” program is so encouraging, and we are looking forward to changing the city, one family dinner table at a time!

Something for everyone, seasoned as well as newbie cooks

CSM foodie Jamie Barnhart jumps in to help

Rhonda is the CSM Food Ministry Director
 and healthy cooking is her 'jam'!

eMeals founders, Jenny Cochran (l) and Jane DeLaney (r)

Fresh squeezed

Freshly chopped

Kitchen camaraderie 

Cook time allows for some intense teaching time

Jane shares her passion for family and healthy lifestyle

Andrea Kirkland, R.D., shares current and valuable nutrition information

An open and safe environment for questions and comments

eMeals "Top Nine" Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Tips

Shoulder to shoulder and eye to eye around a healthy meal!

CSM Nutrition interns, Haley Bishop and Josey Hartley... always happy to help!