AUSTIN—A ministry that began with a handful of men from the Church at Bee Cave working in a neighbor’s yard developed into a growing nonprofit organization in Austin.
Partners in Hope seeks to mobilize the people and resources of Austin’s Lake Travis community by serving one family at a time. Volunteer groups serve a different family each month, offering manual labor such as landscaping and home repairs for residents in the area served by the Lake Travis Independent School District.
Partners in Hope began in 2008 when Matt Peacock, missions pastor at Church at Canyon Creek, a Texas Baptist congregation in north Austin, started a church in west Austin. Early on, members of newly formed Church at Bee Cave began serving their neighbors in practical ways.
“The more we got into it, the more we realized how broad the need was in our community,” said Peacock, now executive director of Partners in Hope. “It began to graduate from doing smaller things to now taking on some home repairs and getting some trade people involved, like plumbers, electricians and carpenters.”
The number of projects and the scope of the ministry grew, and by fall 2011, Partners in Hope achieved nonprofit status. Last year, Partners in Hope assisted a family each month and served one family twice.
In 2014, the organization is expanding even more. Along with serving one family each month, typically on the third Saturday of the month, volunteers will serve four additional families this year. Volunteers will serve a new family on the final weekend each month in 2014 that has five weekends—March, May, August and November.
Every December, Partners in Hope sponsors a Christmas gathering, where all the families the organization helped throughout the year are reunited with the volunteers. They come together for fellowship and a full meal. Each family receives a Christmas basket full of food items, gift cards to local stores and one requested gift.
Beyond improving the physical needs of neighbors’ dwellings, Partners in Hope also builds relationships with the families it serves—relationships that continue after the project is completed.
“It blows the doors wide open to do ministry with their family,” Peacock said.
Partners in Hope connects families with the faith community for spiritual support. Where applicable, it also connects them to other physical resources, such as counseling, healthcare or employment. Volunteers have returned to the homes where they worked to help children in the family with their homework, Peacock said.
Additionally, Partners in Hope seeks to identify ways families can contribute to the community and continue their involvement with the organization. Many of the families who have been served become volunteers and extend the same grace shown to them to other families in need.
One woman regularly brings food to volunteers, three years after Partners in Hope worked on her home.
Often, neighbors serve neighbors, Peacock said.
“We’ve tried to go by the general approach to this as serving families in the community with resources from the community by volunteers in the community,” he said.
Partners in Hope averages 25 to 30 volunteers each month, and more than 200 volunteers served in 2013, many for the first time.
Individual donors provide more than half of the organization’s funding, and the rest comes from churches and organizations such as the Baptist General Convention of Texas, through gifts to the Mary Hill Davis Offering for Texas Missions. Partners in Hope uses the funds to buy materials for families, tools and equipment to serve the families, as well as insurance and administrative costs.
Last year, Church at Canyon Creek made Partners in Hope an official church partner, providing ongoing funds for the nonprofit organization.
“The heart behind it is tremendous,” said Keith Tooley, the church’s missions pastor. “A lot of the people they serve don’t go to church and are not involved in Christian community. We can get behind that.”