Social Ministries . . . Where do we go from here?

When you think of social ministries and related service organizations, what groups come to mind? There are also many federal and state entities offering help to those in need.

At the federal level, we have affordable rental housing, student financial aid, food assistance, grants & loans, help with bills, military programs, grants & loans, retirement tips, help with social security questions, state social service agencies, and unemployment.

At the state level, services include aging, disability, financial, food, health, mental health/substance use, Medicaid Q&A, safety, and coordinating services (https://crcg.hhs.texas.gov/). These are what your tax dollars pay for and more!

When looking at these federal and state agency services, do you wonder if they really help in the short-term getting people on their feet again? Or do they end up creating a life-long dependency for these many aids? According to the 2018 US Census, “In 2018, there were 38.1 million people in poverty, approximately 1.4 million fewer people than 2017. Between 2017 and 2018, poverty rates for children under age 18 decreased 1.2 percentage points from 17.4 percent to 16.2 percent. Poverty rates decreased 0.4 percentage points for adults aged 18 to 64, from 11.1 percent to 10.7 percent. The poverty rate for those aged 65 and older (9.7 percent) was not statistically different from 2017.” The only increase in poverty rate where those without a high school diploma.

The question to ask is “Were the improved numbers rooted in how the services were provided or the improved economy from 2017 through 2019? As one example, have the federal “Opportunity Zones” resources program helped in any way? According to Housing and Urban Development, New report shows opportunity zones on track to lift one million Americans out of poverty, Opportunity Zone investments created half million new jobs in designated Opportunity Zone tracts, along with private equity investments growing 29% compared to non-opportunity zone regions. It is estimated that one million Americans will be lifted out of poverty, reducing poverty rates in Opportunities Zones by 11%. Those who own their own homes in those zones, private property values have increased by approximately $11 billion in new wealth.

Hopefully, between the way our social service programs and other federal and state programs coordinate, they will be encourage those in need to eventually rise above poverty level and beyond. Yet, there may be another way also that doesn’t depend on the government.

What organizations do you support that provides an alternative to federal & state-run welfare programs with effective, compassionate ministries to the underserved, needy and unfortunate. How do these non-governmental organizations help families rise above poverty level and become more independent? As we these organization help improve the lives of those in need, they will have more resources to help the next underserved person. They may also help reduce the federal and state tax burden also in these social service areas. For those who live in Texas, you may want to check out online these resources: Texas Nonprofits, Rural Health Information Hub, and Hill Country Family Services (Kendall County, Tx). Be sure to check out your own state/county regions.

Here are a few examples of organizations I am familiar with that are dedicated to helping the underserved rise from poverty, struggles, and tragedies.

Hill Country Alliance (bring together an ever-expanding alliance of groups throughout a multi-county region of Central Texas with the long-term objective of protecting open spaces, water supply, water quality and the unique character of the Texas Hill Country.)

Hill Country Family Services (fosters mental and physical wellness, stability and independence for individuals and families who are in crisis in Kendall County. Our vision is to create an empowered community. HCFS is committed to providing case management services, innovative support including supplemental self – selection groceries, emergency financial assistance for individuals and families in the community who are experiencing a crisis.)

Hill Country Daily Bread (fosters long-term, meaningful Christ centered relationships between people in need and people who are called to help…family to family, neighbor to neighbor, a community united to end situational and generational poverty in our hometown; administers programs, manages donations, mobilizes community resources and trains Churches, Mentors, and volunteers from more than 60 ministry partners and agencies who deliver food, clothing, furniture, diapers, school supplies, children’s books, and bibles, to struggling families in an eight-county area.)