Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Note From Tracy Hipps: Summer Impact 2019

Executive Director, Tracy Hipps

Each summer we have youth volunteer groups travel from all over the country to work with us and I recently had the opportunity to visit one of these groups at their home in Glendora, California. This group worked with us for the first time last summer and decided they wanted to come back to Birmingham and learn more. In order for us to best serve them, I needed to go and see their community and church so that we would be able to speak directly to their students and leaders in a way that brings what they are learning here in Birmingham back to their home. We love going deeper with groups and investing in them. This summer we will host groups from all over the country, as we have done the last nine years, and we see this as a great opportunity to build relationships and transform communities all over. Our desire is to share with these groups our values, principles, and a Biblical understanding of how communities change with the power of the Gospel.

Summer at CSM is a busy season and these groups strategically serve the community through and with our local churches. We do this because the church is the body of believers we are seeking to ultimately serve with resources to meet the holistic needs of the community. When the groups leave, who is there? When CSM leaves, who is left there to care for the needs? It is the local church. The local church is our sweet spot to engage people and the community for change. Matthew 16:18 says, “upon this rock, I will build my church” and we are lining up with the local church to fulfill our vision for community transformation leading to one church.  

This summer we will mobilize over 20 groups of students and adults to serve Birmingham communities with the hands of Christ, with the word of God, alongside the local communities of faith. We hope the results will be greater awareness of the heart of God, a deeper relationship with God, and the desire to see all walk in the oneness of God. Our daily teachings will come from Ephesians: being one body, one blood, one spirit, and one humanity. We want to glorify the Lord in everything our hands' touch, with everybody with whom we speak, and we want to treat all people through the eyes of Biblical justice and righteousness.  We are more focused than ever to impact groups and churches to make a difference. Matthew 28:19-20 says, “as you go make disciples” and this is what we do at CSM.

Please join me in praying for our groups and the work that is to be done in our city this summer.

A Special Luncheon Celebrating Moms

Women enjoying the luncheon at S. Highlands Pres.
This Mother's Day we had the privilege of honoring 130 moms from our community at the beautiful South Highlands Presbyterian Church. This event brings churches and organizations together to express our deep appreciation for women, whether they are new moms, experienced moms, women who serve the community or are women who may not have anyone to honor them on this day. The purpose of this lunch is to let these women know that they are seen and appreciated for who they are. 

Deborah Foster, the MC, lead the program by encouraging interaction and participation as the women at each table said their name and then a word that described them beginning with the same letter. This generated some much-deserved applause as women acknowledged their wisdom, beauty, creativity, and devotion for the Lord. Deborah has a way of making everyone feel welcome and she shared how this luncheon has helped her heal as she grieves her own mother's passing. 

A special song opens the program
Lady Mechelle Wilder from Bethel Baptist was our keynote speaker and she challenged the women to believe that no matter what their age, stage of life, or dream, God is listening and we just need to stay close to Him. The women nodded and joined in as Lady Wilder spoke many scriptures of encouragement over these ladies. At the close of the luncheon, Deborah Foster's daughter presented her with a special gift on behalf of their family and shared how much she means to them and then Deborah gave each woman a necklace as a reminder that they are loved. 

During the program, attendees dined on a delicious lunch from the Yellow Bicycle Catering Company and dessert from Grace's Kitchen. These two partners make sure the ladies feel loved with this special meal. Every year children from Westminster Elementary School make cards for our mother's in nursing homes and this year we were able to give each mom at the luncheon a handmade card. These cards were so precious with scripture and words of love and many of the women expressed that it was their favorite thing about the entire program. These sweet cards took the mom's memories back to their own children and we could tell that they felt so loved by them. Each year we honor a special mom and this year we honored our oldest in attendance. And at the end of the program, we had one mom volunteer on the spot to sing and The Lord's Prayer to close our program and she did an amazing job. God is so good.

Tracy Hipps and speaker, Mechelle Wilder

A beautiful table with hand-drawn cards for every mother.

MC Deborah Foster and Tracy Hipps
Deborah Foster and daughter
Every mother received candy and a hand-drawn card by
students from Westminster Elementary.
This mother volunteered to sing and closed our program
singing The Lord's Prayer

Three Homewoners Get Their Prayers Answered

Thanks to a Wells Fargo grant, these homes are getting their much-needed repairs done. So many things have to happen to get a home repaired: the homeowner has to be eligible, the work has to be able to be done by volunteers, and then the funds to purchase the materials have to be raised. When all of these criteria are met, we can start repairing a home! And thanks to Wells Fargo, this April we were able to start three!

Wells Fargo awards CSM grant to repair homes

Snow house will be repaired and siding will cover the old chipped paint
Wells Fargo volunteers wrapping the Snow house

More work being done at Snow house

Hill house before
Hill house getting scraped and repaired
Wells Fargo volunteers work on the Hill house
Davis house in need of repair and siding.
Wells Fargo volunteer painting new siding at the Davis house
Siding and painting at the Davis house

Meet Our Youngest Volunteers

Over the last month, the 1st-grade classes at Westminster Elementary School have been working in their classrooms to write 120 Mother's Day cards for our Mother's Day banquet on May 11th.  This has been the continuation of a 5+ year relationship between CSM and the 1st-grade classes at Westminster.

During my time at the school, I spoke to three first grade classes (about 45 kids) about our Mother's Day luncheon and how we would utilize the cards as a part of our blessing and honoring those moms on the 11th.  I let them ask questions for about 5 minutes about the food, the timing, the decorations, etc... and then the class prayed for CSM, the banquet, the mom and the letters.  They all prayed aloud at one time lifting up their requests to God that people would know him more because of this event and their letters.  When they finished, I asked them if I could pray for them because I grew up in a school that didn't let people just pray together out loud like that and those kids were totally shocked that that was a reality. After I prayed and thanked God for them and their impact and involvement, I told them one of the best ways (if not the greatest) to love and serve others is to pray for them and no matter how old or how young they are, their prayers will always be heard by God.

One of the teachers said that "our kids don't know much outside of this school and for them to hear that prayer isn't necessarily allowed in other schools is out of this world to them".

Woodlawn HS Seniors Day of Service

 Woodlawn HS seniors spent their day of service helping us get our building and equipment ready for spring and summer volunteers! We love having these youth and their energy in the building as they prepare for graduation. These students worked hard clearing land, bundling diapers with Bundles of Hope, cleaning equipment, painting pews, sorting food, boxing water, and working with Med Missions. A special guest speaker, Demetri Carpenter, charged the students to make a plan for their future and shared how God had led his life from poverty to finding his passion. We love serving with our Birmingham city youth!
Students from Woodlawn HS making our pews look like new!

Derick encourages the students to put God first in their lives.
Students gather to listen to Derick speak.
Students sorted food in the cooler for distribution.
Bundling diapers with Bundles of Hope is always a favorite project!

Spring cleaning our carts to get them ready for service.

Students working in the cooler with Resource Director, Rhonda Marshall

There's no project too big for these guys!

This group boxed and sorted with Construction Director, Aaron Parsons

Working with Med Missions to box supplies going overseas.

This group helped prep our back closets and offices for future use.

Tracy Hipps, Ex Dir, encourages the students as they finish their day of service
and head towards graduation!

A Bright Future For Seniors From Jackson Olin High School

Executive Director, Tracy Hipps, charges students to put the Lord
first as they prepare for their future.
One-hundred high school seniors spent their morning serving at CSM as part of their senior week at Jackson Olin High School. We love working with these youth as they are finishing up their school career and making plans for their future! Tracy Hipps, our Executive Director, especially loves this time of year. "Speaking into these students lives as they are making decisions for their next steps in life is such an honor and we love having groups like this at CSM!"

Dion, from Urban Hope Church, shares his story

Dion, from Urban Hope Church in Fairfield, shared his story of growing up in poverty and without a father and how that affected the life choices available to him. He credited a very special coach from his high school days for believing in him and helping to change his life. Without his knowledge, this very coach had come with the students after feeling a prompting in his spirit that he needed to come! For years the coach had been telling Dion's story to students and he was so excited to be reunited! We love being able to watch God work and this is such a special example of how God is personally involved in our lives and wants to encourage us! How sweet of Him to reunite these two in such a special way!
Students box water for upcoming distribution.

Students and CSM intern, Katie, make pallets of school supplies.

These students worked hard to complete their projects and we enjoyed being able to spend time with them during this very special season. 

Students help to clean up the CSM backyard.

These students enjoyed working with Bundles of Hope
Diaper Ministry.