By Ryan Brown
(Dallas, Texas) — Buckner International and Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana saw an idea become reality on June 7 when Primera held a ribbon-cutting ceremony in celebration of its new community center.
“We took a storage area, cleaned it up and were able to make our assets useful for God’s ministries,” said Danny Cancino, deacon at Primera and church liaison for Buckner.
With new facilities such as a computer lab, a reading room, a space for tutoring and support groups, this community center will serve as a multipurpose area that can be used for kids, teenagers and adults to facilitate learning.
[caption id="attachment_1103" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Felipe Garza, Lawrence Cepeda, Sandra Martinez, and Danny Cancino spoke to the crowd before opening the doors to the new community center at Primera Iglesia Bautista Mexicana."][/caption]
Felipe Garza, vice president of national operations for Buckner, said that the center can help bring positive educational change for the children in the community.
“Half of our kids in the Hispanic community are dropping out of high school, so if we can start a reading program or a tutoring program that targets these children from the beginning, we can teach them the importance of education and keep them up to par with the other children.”
On June 8, the center began operating with the new Summer Sack Lunch Program, a program of the North Texas Food Bank, which will feed more than 250 community children.
The collaboration between Buckner and Primera started early in November, with support from a Christ is our Salvation grant. Through this grant, Buckner and Primera were able to hire a social worker to serve, build relationships with the church members and learn how the church can connect with the community through their gifts and talents.
“We decided to do a community assessment,” said Sandra Martinez, Coordinator of Global Ministries. “We did it with the purpose of discovering the needs of the community as well as its strengths. More than anything, it gives us an idea of what services are already available in the community and it helps us know how and where we can serve.”
Martinez said that Buckner puts a lot of emphasis on empowerment. So through the programs provided, they wanted the center to empower not only the children and teens, but also the adults. Because when you work with the whole family, change happens.
This new community center will reinforce Buckner’s mission statement of creating strong families with successful futures.
“We want this place to be full of children and adults who come here to learn and to acquire hope because we come across so many families with special needs,” Martinez said. “Hopefully as families get to know our name in the community, they will see us as a place that they can go to, not only for assistance, but also to experience God’s love.
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