Making an Impact through Reading Buddies
For the past eight years, Lucas Avenue Baptist Church has been actively involved in providing Good News Clubs at Ford Elementary.
However, it was only last year that they truly felt their partnership with the school deepened when they started serving as Reading Buddies. This new program has allowed them to make a significant difference in the lives of students and teachers alike.
The journey began in September 2021 when Patsy Taylor, inspired by the Heart4Schools Training she attended with her pastor, Michael Post, approached the school about the Reading Buddy program. In March 2022, ten dedicated volunteers began serving ten students. Establishing the program and finding volunteers proved to be a challenging task, but Patsy’s belief in God’s plan helped her to persevere. She said, “Don’t give up. Stay in there because if it is God’s plan, the doors will open.”
An Answer to Prayer
The Lord answered prayers when, after surrendering the ministry to God in prayer one Sunday morning, two individuals approached Patsy expressing their desire to serve as volunteers. Since then, church members have rallied around the cause. Patsy’s husband, Chip, also joined the efforts. The students, hungry for male role models, quickly embraced “Mr. Chip.” Patsy emphasizes the importance of recruiting male volunteers and encourages other churches to actively involve them in similar initiatives.
In just a few months, the volunteers made a profound impact at the school. They provided duty-free lunches for teachers, hosted breakfasts in the breakroom with homemade breads, and took the time to develop relationships and understand the teachers’ needs better. The effect of their presence did not go unnoticed. As one teacher expressed, “The whole spirit of the school has changed since you’ve been coming.”
Seeing and Meeting Needs
Recognizing the financial limitations of many students during the school’s book fair, the volunteers took it upon themselves to host their own fair at the end of the year. With an impressive collection of 800 books, they ensured that each of the 413 students had the opportunity to choose two books to take home for the summer.
As the school year came to a close, a teacher expressed gratitude, stating, “You have accomplished so much in a short time. I can’t wait to see what happens next year!” Lucas Avenue Baptist Church continues to serve and support teachers this year, with an increased team of 12 volunteers serving 23 students.
Patsy’s excitement is contagious as she firmly believes that this is their mission, precisely what God wants them to do. Lucas Avenue Baptist Church has demonstrated that by embracing and truly caring for the school community, a lasting impact can be made. Their story serves as an inspiration and an invitation to other churches to step up, engage, and transform lives through acts of love and service.