Churches in Mission stays on mission, looks to future

Churches in Mission began as a food pantry in Mooresville in 1987. Since then, the organization has expanded its community assistance to include budgeting classes and other services in its new Hope House. Photo credit: Emily Metheny

In 1987, three ministers in Mooresville joined forces because they believed they could make a greater impact in their community.

They were right.

Working from their original building, Churches in Mission (CIM) has kept its doors open in Moorseville for almost 30 years. Since it's inception as a food and clothing pantry, more services have been implemented to meet the needs of the community including the availability of gifts during the holiday season, healthy budgeting classes and a back to school supply distribution.

“The mission of Churches in Mission is to help those who are under-resoucered in our community by providing them with the necessities for daily living, and at the same time sharing our common love of Jesus Christ,” said executive director Alice Cordes. “We know when we work separately, we’re just not as effective. By working together, we make a bigger difference.”

The mission originally started as a food pantry that also offered a small collection of clothes, but have continued to meet those needs. Hours of operation can be found on their website.

Looking forward, Churches in Mission plans to keep growing.

"There is so much we can do," Cordes said. "But you can only move as fast as your resources grow."

This year, the organization was able to purchase and open Hope House, a separate location that offers classes to help families “step forward,” as Cordes said. Classes include healthy budgeting and container gardening. Additionally, Hope House also offers family enrichment programs once a month to bring families closer and help them communicate.

"When you sit around a table and play board games, you have to put the phone aside," Cordes said. "You have to interact with each other. It pulls families closer together  with more opportunities to grow and to be strengthened, and these are things that encourage that."

Right now, the organization is focusing on expanding Hope House, their biggest project. Since Work One has opened up an office in Martinsville, Cordes said she would like to offer the company space in Mooresville so those services could be offered in that community as well. 

Churches in Mission is also working on creating a computer room where clients can have access to the internet in order to job search, communicate with schools, and other  daily tasks, Cordes said. 

“Anything that will help families improve their home lives, while helping their whole family take a step forward, [away from] the same place they have been for a long time,” Cordes said. “That’s our goal.”

A volunteer hands supplies to a student during the School Supply Distribution on Aug. 1 at Neil Armstrong Elementary. CIM provided 589 students with supplies from lists they received from their school or teacher. Photo credit: Emily Metheny

The Power of Volunteers

“We have a large group of volunteers here,” Cordes said. “It takes about 90 people on a monthly basis to keep the doors open.”

Right now, between 90 and 100 people volunteer with the mission, and Cordes cannot stop praising them.

“It’s a great group of people, and non-profits can’t be successful without good volunteers, so that’s a very key part of what we do,” she said. “They come in, see a need, and just do it.”

If someone wants to get involved and volunteer at the mission, Cordes said all he or she would have to do is stop by the office and talk to her.

“If they walk in the front door and say they would like to go to work, I will find them something to do,” Cordes said. The training volunteers receive is on the job, but if they have a special interest, there are a variety of things to do at Hope House. Volunteer options include childcare, cleaning, teaching classes, and more.

For the back to school distribution this year, Churches in Mission provided supplies for 589 children, Cordes said. Kids were able to select the backpacks they wanted, choose a book, and receive all the supplies from their list.

If someone just wants to volunteer for one day a year, Cordes said she would recommend the backpack distribution event before school starts each year.

“It's a big opportunity for us to be able to reach children and give them a chance to start school on an equal level with their peers,” Cordes said. “If they had to go to school the first day without what they needed, and a broken backpack, they'll have to go to the teacher to ask for the things they need, all of which would make them stand apart.”

During the year, Churches in Mission works closely with the Mooresville School's family services coordinator to make sure students are receiving the items they need or if they have missed the distribution date.
Hope House is located on Main Street in Moorseville. Hours of operations are available online. Photo credit: Emily Metheny.

Local Support, the Kendrick Foundation, and the Community Foundation 

Churches in Mission receives support not only from local churches, but from the Kendrick Foundation and the Community Foundation of Morgan County. 

The Community Foundation serves as a resource that Cordes said she utilizes for fundraising and publicity. Churches in Mission has a fund at the CFMC, and Cordes said this helps get the attention of those who may not have heard of them otherwise.

With Kendrick’s help, Churches in Mission has received $254,378 in grants for the past few years, and each has helped the organization in different ways.

Charity Tracker is one such benefit. An online record keeping program, Charity Tracker records what services Churches in Mission offers to individuals, as well as shares information with other agencies in the community. The program can run reports and generate statistics for the local non-profit community and potential funders, Cordes said.

“The most important thing it does is allow us to keep track of what we are doing and show we are doing it in a very responsible way,” Cordes said. Charity Tracker also records duplication of services throughout the community, as the grant allows Churches in Mission to coordinate this program with other direct service organizations.

 One of the most important aspects of the continued support from the Kendrick Foundation has been the ability for Churches in Mission to help alleviate the cost of healthy food.  This financial support supplements the cost of food items that exceed government funding.

“It’s not just about making [the clients] feel full, but to provide food to them that gives them the proper nourishment," Cordes said. “Those things mostly have to be purchased."

Churches in Mission spends two to three thousand dollars each week to supplement the government supplied foods, but the organization does also receive donations from food drives, churches, and businesses in the community.  Cordes said Churches in Mission is "truly community supported."

The Kendrick Foundation has also given support to Hope House.

“[The Kendrick Foundation] stepped up to support Hope House and our educational efforts, and that’s major because we have not had the opportunity yet to prove that we could [operate Hope House],” Cordes said. “They put their faith in us and that was a wonderful opportunity that will allow us to make a true difference in the lives of so many people.”

Alice Cordes accepts the Non-Profit of the Year award from CFMC Executive Director Ed Kominowski at the 2014 Philanthropy Awards Dinner at the Art Sanctuary of Indiana in Martinsville. CIM was the first organization to win this award. Photo credit: Danie M. Becknell

Want to help Churches in Mission do more?

Donations to Churches in Mission can be made through the community foundation's website. Thanks to the Lilly Endowment, donations will be matched 50 cents on the dollar.

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