by Amy Friend
As a child, did you ever skip a flat stone across a pond, and be fascinated by the ripples? Out they go, spreading far and wide, bouncing off whatever they encounter to make new ripples.
Kindnesses are like that, a helping hand encourages someone in need to keep on trying, eventually succeeding! The kindnesses ripple on to whoever may be part of the family circle, encouragement and hope are wonderfully contagious. Lakeside Presbyterian Church has a similar approach, spreading ripples of help and hope wherever they can thrive.
In its brief 10-year history, LPC has sponsored a broad range of outreach projects: clothing and food packages for those who cannot provide for themselves; medical care; and weekly classes for those who wish to improve their situation, Computer, Sewing and English.
An LPC Migrant Program in Guadalajara has distributed shoes, warm clothing and blankets to young people from Central America who are homeless and living on the city streets.
Twice monthly, more than 150 people attend addiction centers in Chapala and Mezcala. LPC supports this initiative, sharing the gospel, and assisting in rehabilitation. Each attendee is given a nourishing meal.
La Zapotera now has a Community Center, which was created from an abandoned jail. More than 100 students receive a healthy breakfast there every school day, resulting in greatly improved school performance.
In Mezcala Village, LPC works with Pastor Leonel from the Iglesia Evangelica de Mezcala, providing funds for the food bank, which are used by the mothers to supply breakfast to the Children in Mezcala on their way to school in his church.
A few months ago, LPC outreach discovered Lakeside families with children who had never attended school. These kids don’t know how to read or write—and would never have the opportunity to learn without outside help.
LPC hired a teacher to help, and purchased the necessary materials. Teresa Medina has a Master’s Degree in education, and more than 25 years of teaching experience. Teresa’s literacy program is now benefiting ten children between the ages of 7 and 13. These youngsters don’t attend any other school because of their families’ lack of financial resources. In addition to their classes, the children are given a healthy breakfast.
It is LPC’s hope that by giving these kids a chance to learn, they’ll have the opportunity one day to have better employment and change their families’ circumstances.
In Mexico, the dropout rate in public schools is high, as many children must work in order for their families to survive. While public schools are free of charge, uniforms and other expenses are required. These costs can prevent the poorest children from attending. More than 90% of children in Mexico attend primary school, but only 62% attend secondary school (secundaria), and just 45% finish high school (preparatoria).
A group of LPC members started a pilot program at the beginning of the school year to provide school uniforms to 25 children in San Antonio whose families lacked resources to buy them. This group is working on establishing a uniform exchange program to provide for growing children and more students needing this assistance.
LPC’s weekly “Tuesday Drop-In” was established to allow Lakesiders to meet new friends, and enjoy games and snacks together. Beginning June 4, the weekly Tuesday event will be expanded. The church invited Freedom Chorale to lead “60’s Singalongs,” lyrics provided, with live guitar music by director Cindy Paul. The Singalong begins at 1:00pm, goes until 2:15, games and snacks follow. 60’s music is sure to resonate with Lakesiders, who are warmly invited to show up, raise their voices and their spirits!
Always, more will remain to be done, but there is no limit to what can be accomplished as long as the Lakeside community cares about its neighbors.