Today I have the joy of interviewing Katie Evans, Director of Acts of Love Early Childhood Education Center here in Leander, Texas. This center is unlike any other for two reasons.
- It’s FREE.
- You have to be a teen parent
With that in mind and without any ado…
What exactly is the ministry of Acts of Love and how did it get started?
ACTS of Love is a non-profit early childhood center for teen moms. Here is how it all happened: If a mom has a baby while in high school she has the choice to drop out to take care of their baby or stay in school and struggle to find affordable childcare. While some high schools offer childcare to students, the high schools in our area do not, leaving teen-parent families with few options. There is a wonderful woman in our community who works fro the school district and goes to our church. She presented this situation concerning Leander’s teen moms to church and that’s when things got moving.
Within 24 hours, $30,000 had been raised to help get this program up and running.
Fast forward three years and today, we are currently in our second school year. We have served over twenty-five teen-parents families and have helped six, teen moms graduate. We have a full enrollment and a waiting list!
Can you share some ways you’ve seen God work through Acts of Love?
The most beautiful sight I have seen is witnessing our teen moms serve each other. For example, when a child outgrows diapers, clothes, baby gear, etc., the mom will bring it other families at our center who need it. We have moms that offer each other rides to and from school. They sit together at lunch and provided friendship for each other at school. Far too often, teen moms are deprived of the support they need. It is just so sweet to see God working in their lives to provide support for one another.
What advice do you have for anyone who feels prompted to start a ministry like this in their community?
Oh, this question is the most exciting! I could talk about it all day, but I will try to contain myself….
1. LISTEN. Listen to the needs of your community. Not everyone needs a teen-parent center. Some communities are fortunate enough to have fantastic facilities built into their schools. Please do not try to recreate what is already happening. For us, Leander had nothing. We didn’t come in to try to do it better. We came in and started something that simply had not yet existed. So first, listen to your community.
2. PRAY. In our first year, I had so many different prayers. One day I was rejoicing in the support ACTS of Love was receiving and the next day I was on my knees begging for peace. We have seen so much in just two years and prayer is something I have not used enough. Pray for discernment in every decision. Pray for the right staff and volunteers to show up (and they do show up…God will bring them at just the right time). Pray that you serve your community WELL (I learned this prayer early on…as a business we pray for full enrollment. As an individual, I pray that my job would not have to exist. It’s a catch twenty-two, so pray that you do well in what you are called to do).
3. HANG IN THERE! …It is sure to be a wild ride, but it will be the time of your life! Surround yourself with people who care about the ministry and care about you.
How might someone get involved and support the Acts of Love ministry?
There are so many ways!
First and foremost, pray for us. We serve a very specific, very unique, and often very delicate group of families. We need all the prayers you have!
Secondly, like any other non-profit, we need money and lots of it! We offer services for free so that our families are not asked to carry additional financial burdens. In order to keep our center open and growing, we rely heavily on donations from generous individuals. We do fundraising as well. We sell coffee and t-shirts (Contact me if you would like to purchase one and I will be happy to mail it out to you!). We are also hosting our very first Golf Tournament in April.
Third, we can always use donations of gently used baby gear and baby clothes. We love to pass on great donations to our families!
Isn’t this ministry incredible? Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about this valuable gift to the Leander community. If this post has inspired you in any way, I have two small requests.
1. Please share. Share this post on Facebook, Instagram, email it to a friend, send it to your local church, and share it with any one you know who may benefit from this ministry.
2. Prayerfully consider. I know times are hard and money isn’t always easy to give. I don’t know about you, but everyone seems to be asking for financial help. That’s why I ask you to pray. Prayerfully consider if you are able to help Acts of Love financially. Every little bit helps. If $20 is what you have to give, believe me, these children will benefit from your generosity! Shoot, you could always have a bake sale or sponsor a LuLaRoe fundraiser, but pray first then give where ever God leads you.