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Redeeming relationships

Journey of Faith United Methodist Church in Humble, Texas, is what Millie Garrison, executive director of Humble Area Assistance Ministries, refers to as "a 9-1-1 call for us."

"When we need something, we know that they're there. And if they don't have it, they have a lot of resources to help us look for it," she said.

The partnership is possible thanks to a Human Relations Day grant that supports the church's Redeeming Our Community project. The program involves partnerships with several local organizations, including Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAMM).

"The project addresses the needs of poor students and families," said Stevelyn Levigne, community director for the Community Developer's Program. "(It) is multifaceted and contributes to the development of the total family and community."

HAMM provides services to those in crisis, the working poor, the homeless and seniors in the Houston area. The group helps with basic needs such as food or money to help pay electric bills. It also works with clients to get them on the road to self-sufficiency.

Garrison said oftentimes people are living paycheck to paycheck and one bump in the road — an unforeseen expense or illness — sends them on a spiral.

"Car repairs are a major issue, especially in our area, because there's no Metro or public transportation. So, if something happens to their car, it's devastating," she said.

"In those families who are on that line and something happens, they're worried about at night whether they can feed their children, whether they can have electricity. Our seniors that have a fixed income, they're worried about their electricity because they can't get their oxygen if they don't have electricity."

HAMM had 70,000 requests for services last year, Garrison said, and with a barebones staff, they have to rely on volunteers from covenant churches like JOF.  

"Journey of Faith United Methodist Church is currently in our food pantry. They come once or twice a week, or however many times we need them. They're our boots on the ground, and they help us with the labor because we couldn't do everything we do without them," she said.

While some of those they serve may not attend church regularly, Garrison said HAMM is helping make disciples for the transformation of the world by leading through example.   

"We show kindness. We always err on the side of kindness," she said. "A lot of our families don't have extended families for support, so they need somebody to talk to and help them walk through what their problems are. Kindness and love is how we show the hands and feet. And, then, we're actually feeding people, which we're called to do."

She said without Journey of Faith, they would not be able to provide the services that they do.

"We're very grateful for all they do in our community," Garrison said.

Levigne credits the generosity of members of The United Methodist Church on Human Relations Day.

"The Human Relations Day apportionment allows our ministry to thrive in places that we would not otherwise be available to impact."
Julie Dwyer, general church content editor, United Methodist Communications

One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Human Relations Day calls United Methodists to recognize the right of all God's children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with one another. The special offering benefits neighborhood ministries through Community Developers, community advocacy through United Methodist Voluntary Services and work with at-risk teens through the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program.

When you give generously on Human Relations Day, you encourage ordinary people to have a voice in changing the world. Give now.

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