Carly Pickens finds joy in seeing at-risk children and teenagers in her low-income neighborhood respond to loving Christian mentors.
“It’s a joy to see how kids react to doing things with their mentors,” said Pickens, founding executive director of Champions of Hope. “It’s a joy to see their eyes light up.
“It doesn’t have to be big things like going to a Cowboys game or taking a trip to Six Flags. It’s going fishing for the first time. It’s getting an encouraging note at school.
“For our mentors, sometimes it means having a hard conversation with a kid. Sometimes it just means throwing around a football with a kid who should be working on homework but needs even more to be tossing a football.”
Champions of Hope—which has received financial support from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Texas Baptist Men and Dallas Baptist Association—pairs Christian mentors with children at two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school in a low-income area of South Dallas. Few of the children live in two-parent homes. Drug and alcohol abuse mark some households.
Pickens understands. Although she grew up in rural Missouri, not inner-city Dallas, her father was an alcoholic and drug user who spent time in jail on more than one occasion. Her parents divorced when she was 11.
Pickens became the first college graduate in her family, and she taught high school history before moving to Dallas to work as a recruiter for the University of Missouri. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of inner-city young people who didn’t dare dream of attending college, but she wasn’t sure where to start.
At The Village Church, a Texas Baptist congregation in Highland Village, she saw a video inviting church members to serve in the multifaceted community ministries of Cornerstone Baptist Church in South Dallas with Pastor Chris Simmons.
This excerpt is from an article featured in the December issue of CommonCall magazine. Read more stories like this, plus commentary, news and other resources, by subscribing here.