HOUSTON – Surrounded by longtime friends and supporters, Sylvia Bolling takes it all in – the smiles, the laughter, the memories, the pure joy. This is a celebration 25 years – and countless lives changed – in the making.
“In 1989, God gave me a vision, an assignment: Make a difference in the lives of the youth in this community,” she told the crowd gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Buckner Family Hope Center at Aldine. “I promised I would. He promised he would see it come to pass by sending everything and everybody we needed – in his time, his season, his way.”
The next year, Aldine YOUTH was established, setting out “to make a difference through partnerships with schools, churches, businesses, agencies and volunteers.” Bolling began distributing aid out of the trunk of her car and built an after-school program in a middle school gym without air conditioning.
The effort helped families in crisis, some of whom were facing financial struggles and others who were seeking long-term assistance. Eventually, students’ academic performance increased. Families grew closer and lives were changed.
“We just got up every day and did what God told us to do,” said Bolling’s daughter, Shawna Roy, who recently became director of the Hope Center. “The days turned into weeks and turned into months, which turned into years. This is a God thing. No one could do it on their own. It’s been years of watching miracles happen.”
Along the way, Bolling saw God live up to his promise. As if he were reading the ministry’s mission statement, God connected the effort with schools, churches, businesses, agencies and volunteers, many of whom have worked with and supported the initiative for years.
God continually provided Bolling with ideas for better serving the community.
Through cooperation, the community became closer. Families connected with each other and sought to help in times of need. Schools became more attuned to the needs of students; students had a place to turn to for additional help after school.
“As the years went by, more and more people came to volunteer by sharing their gifts, talents, and time,” she said. “This is represents true community empowerment!”
In 2012, Aldine YOUTH became part of the Buckner International family, expanding to become a Family Hope Center empowering children and families. The move was an answer to prayer.
“As the years went by, I started praying to God about the sustainability of the organization,” Bolling said. “It was so important that the harvest of this beautiful seed continue for many years to come. Our coming together was the answer from God.”
Today, the center offers 25 educational, vocational, social and recreational programs to transform entire families.
“Everybody comes together at this center,” Roy said. “We really serve and embrace everybody. It’s always been that way. People know we represent stability. They know we will be here. No matter what, we’re going to love the same and they’re going to be treated the same.”
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