|Profile: Stacy Welk|
Stacy Welk extends the love of Christ to her community.
"Every child who walks through our center is a child of God, and we should love them as a child of God."
Stacy Welk is the Executive Director of the Wesley-Rankin Community Center in West Dallas. That social service center has been at work in the community for more than 100 years.
"Sometimes people call us the Rankin. 'I came to the Rankin because I heard they have GED classes,' or 'I came to the Rankin because I need ESL classes,' or 'I need a place to put my child for daycare,' or 'My grandmother wants to be a part of the senior citizens program,' or 'I'm a youth and I want to be a part of the youth program.' And so when they come in I see a little bit of that potential again, and realize that every time somebody walks through the door that they have a potential to dream big, and it's attainable."
Stacy believes in dreaming big. And she believes dreams are attainable. She's been director since 2003, and has twice been named a "Community Champion" by ExxonMobil for her work with the people of West Dallas.
But just a few years ago, it was Stacy Welk who walked through that same door for the first time. She was 17-years-old. Her father had recently died. Her mother had been laid-off from her job. They lost their cars; they lost their house; and Stacy dropped out of high school. But the teenager remembered going on a church mission trip once, along with youth from the Wesley-Rankin Community Center and its affiliated church, Nueva Esperanza United Methodist. She remembered the nice people there … and she found her way to the center.
"I didn't have any hope left. And I didn't believe in myself anymore. And Wesley-Rankin quickly turned into the place that I looked at as somebody to give me that support. And over the years, after working with Wesley-Rankin and volunteering and a program participant, they helped me restore my own sense of worth and helped me figure out what my potential was."
Along the way, Stacy got her G.E.D., but her education ended there. The director of the center, a woman named Sarah Wilke, decided to challenge Stacy; to get her enrolled in college. It took several attempts. Eventually, Wilke got Stacy interested in a new program she was creating in cooperation with The United Methodist Church. It was called "Bridge to College," and it was meant to help youngsters continue their education when they otherwise would not have done it. It worked. Stacy went to a small college in Kansas and received a bachelor's degree in Inner-Disciplinary Studies in 1997.
"I used to tell the executive director Sarah Wilke, "You better be careful one day, because I'm going to come and take your job from you." And she laughed at me, and I thought well I'm kind of serious about this. I really wanted to be a part of the organization, and I saw the work that Sarah was doing but I didn't really understand the type of work that she was doing. But I wanted to be a part of something bigger. And so my goal, eventually my dream job was to be executive director of the organization."
Stacy moved to Kansas City in 2001 to work for a community college, but a most amazing thing happened two years later. She went home. She moved back to Dallas to become executive director of the community center that had given meaning to her own life. On the day she moved into her office, there was a T-shirt on her chair, with the center's slogan on it: "A Place to Be, A Place to Become."
"Suddenly I just got it. And I read it, and for me at the age of 17, the slogan 'a place to be' that's what Wesley-Rankin was for me. It was a place for me to be, but a place to be safe, and a place that I could call home. And a place where I knew that there wouldn't be any judgment passed on me. And it wasn't until probably 2003 I realized Wesley-Rankin had helped me become the person I am today."
It had worked for her. The center had helped her to become the kind of person she always hoped she could be. And now Stacy sees the same potential happening over and over again.
"Almost every single day as the Executive Director when I see someone walk through the doors for the first time, I see a little bit of myself in them … not really sure what the organization is about, and knowing that they need some assistance but not really quite sure what assistance they need. But they want to be a part of this wonderful community center that they've heard about."
Stacy Welk is a member of Suncreek United Methodist Church, near Dallas. She works with youth at the church, knowing that her faith gave her the strength to keep going, and to become the kind of person who can now be an example and a guide for others.
"Sometimes we fall down, but God's always going to be there to help pick us up. And I haven't always been in that place, but Wesley-Rankin has definitely helped shape that for me. Every day I am able to see God working through our children and our community. And it's almost as if it's a place where people should come if they don't have Christ in their lives, because if they're looking for Christ, it's definitely a place that you can see it on most of our community members' faces, and especially in our children."
Today, Stacy is very happy working with a dedicated staff and an active community. Every day she receives confirmation that her work means something to others.
"I love it. I mean there's nothing better than seeing a child run up to you to give you a hug, not expecting anything in return, just a hug. And I wouldn't trade that for anything."
The following people contributed to this Profile:
Audio and print story by Mike Hickcox; videography by John Gordon.
UMC.org Profiles are produced by Pam Price, 615-742-5405.
Stacy's Spiritual Gifts
- Interpretation of Tongues
Learn more about your spiritual gifts
Stacy's Recommended Resource
Disciple Bible Study
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