Since 1973, Christian Community Action (CCA) keeps its goals, guidelines, and concerns simple. The organization’s mission is to help people who hit rough spots. They do everything they can to move them forward, out of that dark spot and into the world of sunshine and positive hope.
CCA sprouted from a prayer group that was driven by seven people with endless faith and unlimited compassion. The goal was to offer a hand-up, rather than a handout, and to make those offers in a manner that keeps dignity intact. It’s a chore that’s often difficult to achieve.
“CCA is headquartered in Lewisville with 25 full-time staff members and more than 5,000 volunteers,” said Gilbert Montez, President and CEO of the organization. “That sounds like a big number, but it’s not when you’re healing, feeding, and educating over 10,000 individuals annually. With statistics that high, it’s easy to see why CCA is one of the largest non-profits in north Texas.”
In the minds of CCA workers and volunteers, they are doing nothing more than functioning as the eyes, feet, and hands of Jesus. Of course, if you think about it that way, it becomes pretty awesome!
“We take a holistic approach with our programs,” Montez said, “We get to know our people from ‘rescue’ to transition. We stay with them on their journey, walking away from that rough spot to a place of positivity. Some people get into a space of sunshine and hope more quickly than others, and that’s fine. We’re with them for as long as it takes.”
CCA’s pantry manager said they had about two or three months of relief as we came out of the pandemic. “Ninety percent of the people we help are a part of regular, working families. COVID really slammed us and increased the stress on everyone.” Montez said.
“We’re also aware most of the people who walk in here would rather be somewhere — anywhere — else. That’s why we want to greet them and get to know them and their families. We want to help them hang on to their dignity.”
One of the stories filling Montez with joy is about a single mom who walked through the CCA doors one day. She worked several jobs and still couldn’t make ends meet. It certainly wasn’t a unique story, but CCA was ready to move into action. They provided education, including financial education. They helped with cash and much more. Today, that former single mom owns a successful floral shop and is a member of the CCA Board. She says every step she took forward made her feel valued and hopeful. That’s proof there are blessings when you do things the right way, and even more blessings if you do those same things for the right reasons.
“I know I’ve already said this, but it’s important enough to say it again,” Montez emphasized. “That is, every one of our people is important, and we want to learn their needs. We ask them to fill out an intake form on their initial visit. That’s also when they sit down with a case worker. It’s a lot for anyone on a first day, but it’s also the first step out of a very dark place.”
CCA utilizes a holistic approach in their programs. The goal is for people to realize it’s not just their bank accounts that need help, although monetary assistance is the first item on nearly everyone’s list. The goal is to prevent as many people as possible from becoming homeless.
The Kids Eat Free program provides a nutritious lunch for kids ages 1 to 17, Monday through Friday all summer, with a supply of take-home food for the weekend.
There is also the Back-to-School project that includes backpacks filled with school supplies and vouchers for clothing. This boosts confidence and acceptance, and allows kids to be on equal footing with their classmates. It also nurtures a mental readiness for the classroom.
Soon after starting school, Christmas Cheer settles into place and literally stacks of books, toys, and treats pile into CCA. The gifts, plus wrapping paper and ribbon, are given to the parents so they are responsible for getting packages ready for the tree.
Some of the most vulnerable members of society are the elderly. CCA’s efforts to alleviate isolation, depression, poor health, and other forms of separation from daily society is the program called Golden Angels. The project allows several opportunities for social interactions, free healthy meals, and access to CCA’s well-stocked Food Pantry. The results are holiday meals with plenty of good cheer.
CCA provides training classes to help families break the cycle of poverty. Other classes guide individuals to achieving GED and ESL certificates, vocational certification, computer skills, and more.
CCA is a one-stop spot for body, mind, and soul. They are always ready to share prayer with you, but it’s not required.
“I am blessed with a passionate staff,” Montez said. “Without those 5,000 compassionate volunteers, we’d be deciding what programs to cut. That would break all our hearts.”
But that’s not going to happen because Montez and his colleagues are doing exactly what God instructed them to do. They are helping the people and the families across eight school districts in the southern portion of Denton County. According to God, all those folks are our neighbors.
Christian Community Action is following holy instructions.