we lazybirds have taken on a new project and we’re really excited about it. we partnered up with mercy street and started a baking club!
meet: “little birds”
i’ve been working with mercy street, in west dallas, for about two years now…so, when i started to think about how lazybird could bake with more purpose (other than simply fattening up our coworkers), it quickly dawned on me where i would love to be.
lets talk about west dallas….
west dallas is about a 15 minute drive from my apartment in north dallas. it is the 11th poorest community in the nation.
some other significant facts:
population of roughly 26,567.
family poverty rate: 37%.
infant mortality rate: 23%.
median household income: $26,776.
per capita income: $8,912 / year.
unemployment rate: 14.4%.
and for the kiddos…
school drop-out rate: 65%.
number of DISD students in 2009 scoring “college ready” on standardized test: 5%.
number of college graduates from west dallas DISD schools: 2%.
when you consider that highland park, one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods, is literally 6 miles up the street, it’s obvious that west dallas is a community that has been pushed out and left behind. to be honest, it’s the kind of neighborhood you might drive through and immediately feel uncomfortable – lock your doors, try not to make eye contact, and pray for no red lights to hold you up. it’s the kind of neighborhood that brings judgment bubbling to the surface as well as pride and superiority.
lets talk about mercy street…
mercy street is a non profit organization that settled in west dallas in 2003 with a goal of revitalizing a community through gospel centered love. led by founder trey hill, the mercy street staff uprooted their lives to be planted in west dallas…serving the community by living in, loving on and encouraging the community. as west dallas has fallen into a cycle of generation poverty and hope has diminished, mercy street moved in with a goal of raising up a new generation of leaders…to restore hope and dreams where they were lost, all in the Lords name and glory. mercy street’s staff live amongst those they serve and have become apart of day-to-day life. they inspire, they teach and they deeply love this community.
“Mercy Street’s about community transformation and we believe that community transformation happens primarily through relationship and not through program. We ask people to engage in the life of a child, and walk that child from the 4th grade through the 12th grade, believing that it’s in the long-term nature of the relationship where the real impact is made, not just in the child’s life but in the mentor’s life as well” -Trey Hill
“The mission of Mercy Street is to raise up a new generation of indigenous leaders through Christ-honoring, mutually-transforming mentoring relationships that will bring about a positive, permanent change to West Dallas. Embedded within this mission is the idea that God will be glorified when different cultures collide. Statistically and historically speaking, the lot given to me through nature and nurture was to make money for myself, make a name for myself, and retire happy and wealthy. The lot given to my mentee, Lorenzo, through nature and nurture was to fail in school, impregnate a girl out of wedlock, commit a violent crime, and spend the rest of his life in and out of prison. Mercy Street creates a confluence of these paths in a mutually-transforming relationship that leads to God being glorified.” –Brett VanderMolen
the heart behind mercy street has been such a beautiful thing for me to witness and to be apart of. it has changed my life, my perspectives, my priorities and my prayers dramatically. oh, how my previous judgement was transformed into compassion when i took the time to look into the lives and the history of this community. pride and superiority were replaced with deep affection, mercy and love…the first time my sweet mentee wrapped her arms around me. the people of west dallas are not so different from you and me. they are broken – just like you and me, they turn to unfulfilling and destructive habits – just like you and me, they are hurting – just like you and me and they thrive when they are cared for, encouraged and loved – just like you and me. externally, things might look different…circumstances and environment might be worlds apart….but internally…at our core…we are all the same.
i believe our hearts are inclined to love our neighbors….it’s just that sometimes it’s not revealed to us until we actually take action and open the door to our neighbor. once we take the time to get to know our neighbor on a deeper level, it’s hard to turn our backs on them.
lazybird + mercy street = little birds…
while mentors are mercy street’s primary outreach, they have also reached the community through tutoring, sports, dance clubs, bike co-ops, gardening, bible studies, etc. etc. etc….so why not a baking club as well?
my vision for volunteering at mercy street began as a prayer for direction in service. i was seeking out a place to serve and wanted to be intentional in using the skills God has gifted me with. i wasn’t even considering my passion for baking as a “skill”…and then one day it just dawned on me – maybe God blessed me with this passion…so that i could share it with someone else. i have such fond memories of learning how to bake with my mom as a girl….that it occurred to me that a baking club could be such a blessing and joy to the young girls of west dallas. i quickly contacted mercy street about starting up a baking club and was overwhelmed by the way God had been moving their hearts towards the same vision.
“Goodness -YES! I think you’re right – and just LOVE how the Lord moves people’s hearts and prepares their desires and gifts in such amazing ways! We have talked about this quite a bit here as well – but haven’t had the ‘leader’ to jump start it all.”
“I was actually describing an idea for a “baking club” as a way to reach our kids using you as an example of someone who could potentially teach it when Annie forwarded me your e-mail this afternoon. Crazy. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and sharing mine too. “
so there’s the long story…
the birth of ‘little birds’. we are currently meeting once a week and chaotically…but joyfully learning how to bake….to take turns, crack eggs and sift flour. (and how to wash our hands…if we absolutely HAVE to lick some dough off our fingers)
our hope is to inspire some bakers in west dallas. we hope to provide a creative outlet and foster skills and talent that could even lead to a career.
but more than all that, our hope is to build relationships and pour out love and support on these children, for Gods glory.
and for you, the reader…
‘little birds’ means posts on simple recipes…we’re talking quick, under an hour, a fourth grader can do it….you have no more excuses – simple recipes. i hope you enjoy this adventure!
there are many ways to serve west dallas, either specifically through mercy street or through a number of organizations that can be found here. serving at mercy street has been such a blessing and has had such a huge impact on my life. if you live in dallas, i would absolutely encourage you to pray about ways you could serve west dallas.
if you don’t live in dallas, i would encourage you to look around your own community. i believe that we are all placed exactly where we are with a God-given purpose. there are people in our own backyards who need to be reached, and served, and loved. as i’ve learned with baking, if it’s something you love and have a passion for…it doesn’t feel like a burden or chore….it might even become your favorite part of the week.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.