The Tomball Benevolence Network (TBN) is a new and innovative initiative created through the vision of Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries (TEAM) and other community leaders in an effort to connect needy people in our community with the rich resources and services available in Tomball. TEAM, with its caseworkers, provides the ‘hub’ for this network. A new software program named God’s Resources And Community Exchange (GRACE) helps ‘the hub’ manage information on TEAM clients and their needs, along with the many available service providers and other resources available in the community to serve them. TEAM’s goal is to move beyond a ‘hand out’ relief ministry to a ‘hand up’ restorative developmental ministry to our neighbors. To do that, however, we need the help of many of our neighbors who can provide help well beyond ‘emergency assistance’ that has been TEAM’s hallmark since its founding in 1985.
The Tomball community has many low-income families (almost 30% of residents of the City of Tomball are classified as ‘in poverty’), but they are not the only ones who struggle. A life changing circumstance could throw a person who has never been poor into a financial tailspin. Divorce, significant illness, natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey, loss of employment, non-payment of alimony, and a family death are just some of the many reasons why people come to TEAM seeking emergency assistance with food, rent and utility bills, in addition to those living in poverty. For more than 30 years, TEAM has been the place where physical, emotional and/or spiritual help can be found in Tomball. But, to achieve our goal of moving beyond emergency relief to restoration and development of our clients, we need to partner with many agencies (businesses, schools, churches) and individuals who can provide a ‘hand up’ to our clients. That is why the Tomball Benevolence Network (TBN) has been formed—to create a network of these partners to provide a much wider, deeper array of assistance.
Karen Guiles, TBN Community Liaison, is inviting churches, businesses, Tomball ISD, Lone Star College, governmental agencies and other organizations to join TBN. Many area churches provide helping services to their members to enable them to become self-sustaining members of the community. Through TBN, they can open up these services like Financial Peace University, Grief Share, or Celebrate Recovery, beyond their individual members, thereby sharing their willing volunteers and programs with the entire Tomball community. In addition to churches, through TBN, businesses provide reduced-rate or even free services to clients who have been vetted and referred by TEAM caseworkers. (Our caseworkers never send a TEAM client to a business or service provider for help without prior agreement by the provider.) Lone Star College provides a wide variety of ESL, GED and college educational and job skill certification programs, along with access to financial aid for students. A growing group of counselors and mental health professionals provide services on a sliding scale to make them available to low income clients. Harris County Precinct 4 provides a wealth of information on community resources and provides training for TEAM’s caseworkers in how to access them.
Also, there are many other ‘unmet needs’ we see in our community—homelessness, lack of transportation to access work and education, loneliness, and the inability to launch or move back into responsible, productive independence or to escape from generational poverty. Meeting these needs requires building of relationships between those who are struggling and those who are flourishing in our community. If you can repair a plumbing problem for a widow, fix brakes on a low-income person’s car so they can get to work, mow a yard for the elderly and/or disabled, tutor a student, help someone build a resume or join the workforce, provide encouragement and guidance ... you can join the Tomball Benevolence Network too! The sky is the limit when you consider all that can be offered. No long-term commitments are required, and the help offered is always done on a business or volunteer’s own time and schedule.
As the Tomball community continues to grow and TBN expands, financial needs are also increasing. TEAM oftentimes pays for car parts or other necessary project supplies when low-income clients have a serious need, with pro-bono labor provided by our business partners. As we move from providing our traditional emergency assistance to addressing more complex issues besetting our neighbors, the need for money funding increases along with the need for volunteers. Since TEAM has no governmental or large foundation funding, donations from churches, businesses, organizations and individuals are necessary for these critical services to be provided. We are extremely grateful for our current financial supporters because it takes a ‘team’ effort to enable TEAM and TBN to meet the oftentimes desperate needs of our Tomball neighbors. You are invited to partner with us as a donor and/or volunteer to help support the work of this growing TBN community network so that ‘everyone can have enough and no one needs to be afraid’.
If you would like to participate or learn more, please contact Karen Guiles. There’s plenty of room for service providers and volunteers in the Tomball Benevolence Network!
Portions of this press release were published in the Community Impact newspaper on 03/27/2018. You can view the article online here.