2019 has been a year of extreme highs and extreme lows but in each and every moment, I have been able to see God’s goodness. In every situation, I believe it truly is about what you choose to focus on that makes that story. Since the beginning of Grace Like Rain, I have chosen to see every life that we have come in contact with as a child of God worthy of His love, grace and mercy. I have chosen to see every family and every volunteer as an opportunity to share God’s never-ending love. I want every person that we come in contact with to know that they are loved, there is hope in Jesus, and that there is a community of people that want to walk in true community together.
Walking into 2019, GLR was full of hope, excitement, and dreaming of what the future looked like. Katey Billings, our Chief Operating Officer, was prepared to lead our Case Management and Programming team into a new year with fresh eyes of hope and excitement. GLR also hired a new staff member, Bob Lee, to lead our Community groups which focus on faith, family, food and fun. Bob poured into each and every family that walked through our door and each staff person. Sadly, God called Bob home in early March. Bob impacted every life he came in contact with and we are greater people for knowing him. In May, we hired Carol Meade to continue to develop and grow the program. We are excited to see the impact these groups have on our families.
The 2019 high was receiving a call from a donor who gifted a 16-acre piece of land to Grace Like Rain to build our future Love First community on. This land is key to helping so many families here in Denton County. GLR will be able to build around 50- 2 to 4-bedroom homes that will be rented to families participating in our case management services for an affordable rate. There will also be childcare, community gathering spaces and a community center to hold life skills classes and community groups. Love First will be a place where families can regain hope and find relationships and community that will enhance their lives equipping them to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. This incredible gift is a huge answer to many prayers but also creates a new level of extreme faith and trust.
In April, we hired Felicia Smith as a Case Manager and to lead our Life Skills classes. She has begun to build strong relationships with NCTC, Goodwill Job Center and other local businesses and non-profits as GLR has begun to offer these classes. In January of 2020, Felicia, along with a team of volunteers, will begin teaching a 12-week Chalmer’s Center Faith and Finances class. We are so excited about this opportunity for our families and the community.
In May, Grace Like Rain opened our short-term emergency shelter in the front portion of the Wheeler House. This provides single moms and their kids that are literally homeless a safe and supportive place to stay for a 2 to 4-week period. In 8 short months, we have been able to provide a safe haven for 12 moms and 23 kids. 8 of the moms are continuing to engage in our long-term case management services. 3 moms have moved into housing. In November, Grace Like Rain took over the Case Management programming for the back portion of the Wheeler House also. This creates an opportunity for additional Long Term (3 to 6 months) Transitional Housing for families that are homeless. In October, Cree Menefee moved into the shelter as our House Mom and recently we brought on Sherri Williams, as our part-time Case Manager for the shelter. We are excited about this opportunity and have seen many family’s lives changed because of the fresh start and intentional community that they are experiencing at the Wheeler House.
Throughout 2019, we received several grants to assist with the shelter, rent assistance for families, and our Case Management Services. In August, we received word that GLR received the $80,000 City Development Block Grant to use towards predevelopment for our Love First Community. God is good and is continuing to show up in BIG ways as we dream about the future.
In December, Grace Like Rain moved our offices over to Serve Denton. Our Community Groups and Life Skills classes continue to grow therefore the space and collaboration efforts at Serve Denton will be a tremendous benefit.
GLR has so far this year has assisted:
- 30 new families and 58 children.
- 16 new families started their Case Management Services in October
- 35 families with finding safe and stable housing and helped with $61,000 of rent assistance.
- 25 families with transportation.
- 11 families with childcare
Some of my greatest joy has come from watching our volunteers and community embrace GLR and make it their own. This year:
- 2 volunteers came to us with the idea and desire to celebrate each and every GLR kid and parent on their birthday!
- A volunteer offered to take several of our moms shopping for brand new business attire creating a level of confidence as they show up for interviews and work each day. She also learned on one of those trips, that the kids were in need of coats and she went straight out and got some. The picture I received of the incredibly happy and warm kids melted my heart.
- A volunteer that joins us at least 5 to 6 times a year to help our moms prepare crockpot meals to stock their freezers.
- Volunteers who step up to the task of organizing and decorating our families houses so that they feel of home.
- A volunteer who has come to our aid multiple times in making our spaces warm and inviting. She stepped in and designed our shelter space making it a place that anyone would want to come and stay.
That’s what Grace Like Rain is to me…a Community of people who will encourage one another to dream big dreams, a community that will learn together and grow together, a community that will love unconditionally.
I am truly looking forward to what God has in store for us in 2020! Please consider joining our Grace Like Rain community! We are always needing volunteers such as Coaches, Financial Coaches, Shelter Volunteers, and so much more. I would also appreciate you spending some time praying about joining us as a monthly financial partner. It takes about $750 a month to walk alongside a family as they break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. With over 30 active families, it takes about $22,500 a month to maintain our Family Case Management Program, Community Groups, and Life Skills Classes. Your support ensures the continued success of our program. Check out the other pages on our website for more information on how to sign up as a monthly partner and/or volunteer with our organization.
In His Love –
Michelle Conner, CEO