The Christian organization Mission Waco works to alleviate poverty in Waco. Logo courtesy of Mission Waco.

Avery Ballman | Personal editor

Mission Waco is a foundation based on Christian teachings to help fight poverty and support the underserved in Waco. Since 1991, the foundation has expanded to have multiple opportunities for volunteering.

Mission Waco Volunteer Director Bailie Rouse said she has worked with Baylor groups such as the American Medical Women’s Association, Zeta Zigga Zamma, Kappa Chi Alpha and others in the Baylor community to connect with the volunteering with Mission Waco.

“We have a lot of programs people can choose from,” Rouse said. “My hope is to find their passion and what excites them, and then to be that connection for them.”

Some of the many volunteer opportunities at Mission Waco include Urban REAP: an agricultural and renewable energy project, after-school programs, Jubilee Theater, a resale clothing store called The Clothesline and Chapel.

Houston junior Maggie Summerlin said she heard about Mission Waco in her sophomore year through her sorority Chi Omega, which often volunteers at The Rock, the children’s program, during service hours.

Summerlin started as an intern at Mission Waco last summer and now volunteers four days a week for the afterschool youth program.

“I love being able to create a safe space where a child can thrive and feel that someone cares and loves them beyond the four walls of their home,” Summerlin said. “I think it’s a special gift to have to create another place and another person in which a child can find safety.”

For those interested in volunteering, Rouse holds two orientation sessions each week, one via Zoom and one in person. From there, the individual meets with Rouse to find the program that works best for them.

Rouse said after-school programs attract the most students, but there are other areas that need additional help, such as Urban REAP and Chapel.

“We would love to see more student groups and individuals come to our chapel at the shelter,” Rouse said. “So that’s an area that we really hope to expand to bring the community and people from all walks of life together.”

Chapel is a fellowship time held once a week at My Brother’s Keeper, Mission Waco’s homeless shelter. Rouse said volunteers do not need to be pastors or in ministry to participate in this program.

For Rouse, she said her volunteer experience was not about what she knew, but about what she earned from the people she helped.

“For me, that’s had a big impact, it’s just being able to slow down and hear what people have to say and learn from them,” Rouse said. “And not to think that I know everything, or that I have it all together, because I definitely don’t.”

Summerlin said her volunteer experience at Mission Waco has been transformative because she comes face to face with the people she serves and they have changed her perspective. Although she is a full-time student, Summerlin said she wishes she had more time in her schedule to volunteer with youth.

“Loving children and loving people is a big point of ministry in my heart,” Summerlin said. “So it’s about making time for the things you care about.”

Volunteering is open all year round. To to be involvedcontact Rouse or attend an orientation session.

“There’s something for everyone at Mission Waco, we’re not lacking in passion and purpose,” Rouse said. “So I think if people have a certain area that they want to go into, that’s a way to keep increasing that passion in them.”