Mineral Wells Center of Life (MWCOL) is a tax-exempt, nonprofit, volunteer-based ecumenical organization that serves all of Palo Pinto County and the greater Mineral Wells, Texas area. Mineral Wells Center of Life’s goal is to alleviate poverty in the area by providing food, utility assistance, training, education, and navigation through a network of service agencies and programs that serve our target population groups. Our services include food assistance programs, emergency food programs, GED classes, computer classes, life skills training, and various other programs that provide opportunities for self-sufficiency. Mineral Wells Center of Life receives support from individuals, churches, corporate sponsorships, and charitable organizations.
Based on U.S. Census Bureau and USDA estimates, over 28% of Palo Pinto County residents qualify for assistance from Mineral Wells Center of Life. Our client base is low-income people, mainly families, who need emergency help to put food on the table, assistance with utility bills, crisis intervention, education, and training. Over half of those served by our programs are families with children.
Our services assist families in caring for their children and achieve goals of self-sufficiency. Mineral Wells Center of Life’s services are a small investment in comparison to the cost of ignoring the problem of poverty in the county and the influence it has on a number of health and crime issues.
1. 1 Mission & Vision
The mission of Mineral Wells Center of Life is to help alleviate poverty and improve lives through faith, education, and mentoring. Our vision is that through collaboration, we assist people to break the cycle of poverty and emerge to a more independent life.
This initiative is designed to serve all of Palo Pinto County, Texas through a growing collaboration of service agencies and organizations working together under one roof to efficiently and effectively alleviate poverty by providing availability to long-term solutions through education and training, as well as short-term assistance through a food bank, utility assistance, and navigation through aid programs and resources. Our objectives are:
Influence a reduction of 1,000 in the number of Palo Pinto County residents living in poverty by 2020
Acquire $400,000 for pledge campaign through churches, individuals, corporations, private charities and government financial support to purchase existing location
Raise an additional $300,000 in funds to renovate and improve facilities to accommodate collaborative efforts and meet building code requirements
Establish donation network for food and financial donations
Collect over ten thousand pounds of food in 2015. Increase collection amount by 20% each year.
Effectively distribute food to low-income families that make up over 20% of Palo Pinto County residents.
Improve food bank storage and distribution facilities
Increase volunteer recruitment and training
Graduate 25 GED participants and increase that amount by 25% each year
Mineral Wells Center of Life is an ecumenical volunteer-based social service organization in Palo Pinto County, Texas. The organization’s focus is to identify, collaborate, and utilize resources for alleviating poverty among low-income individuals and families in the area.
The organization performs the following:
Solicits and distributes food to low-income families struggling with food insecurity.
Operates several educational programs to help families better use their existing resources, and to gain skills and resources to better their position in the workforce.
Provides office space to various social service agencies and organizations, and directs clients that need help to these groups.
2.1 Organization Overview
Mineral Wells Center of Life works to alleviate poverty by not only meeting people’s immediate needs with short-term assistance, but more importantly, we support clients in developing and pursuing a long-term plan to escape the bondage of poverty and their dependence on aid. Clients are encouraged to be restored to God, their families, and community. For many this restoration is a gradual process, for others it can happen quickly.
As we assist with the most basic of human physical needs, a door is opened to go deeper into the spiritual and educational needs. This leads to an opportunity to minister to the whole person. Our goal is to provide clients with various training opportunities and mentors to help them discover and develop the skills and resources they need to succeed. We urge them to get connected with a local church that will love them and help them on this journey. We provide some training and direct them to other resources when needed. For those clients who already have jobs, we encourage them to develop skills that improve their position in the workforce.
MWCOL operates under the premise that poverty is deeper than a lack of physical things; it’s a matter of the heart and is based in broken relationships. The most important relationship is one’s relationship with Christ, and for this reason MWCOL guides clients to pursue Christ, to seek his restoration, and to join with like-minded people who are doing the same. As one’s relationship with Christ is restored, there is a chance for all other relationships to be healed.
When a client first visits MWCOL for groceries or utility bill assistance, they complete an application and are given a short interview to assess their needs. On this first visit, they are encouraged to seek further assistance and to develop a plan of action to be fully restored. Some do, but most leave with just the temporary fix. For clients who return requesting more assistance, the second interview becomes more in depth and the plan of action becomes mandatory.
The leaders of MWCOL are a great team from various backgrounds and Christian denominations. Our diversity brings balance and strength to the organization, while our common goals help us stay focused on the mission.
MWCOL is currently in a major pledge campaign to raise $700,000 before March 2016. The majority of the funds, $400,000, will be used to purchase a 30,000 square foot building in which the organization is currently located at 200 SW 5th St in Mineral Wells, Texas. The balance of the funds will be used to remodel the building, adding offices, improve energy efficiency, and comply with ADA regulation requirements and other building codes.
In addition to this pledge campaign, MWCOL is engaged in a campaign to recruit partners who will give monthly support to the ongoing mission by covering the utility and maintenance costs of the building, as well as a small paid staff. MWCOL is planning for operating budgets over the next five years as follows: 2016…$160,000; 2017…$240,000; 2018…$280,000; 2019…$320,000; 2020… $360,000 This increase in budget is a projection of the need for additional paid staff as the organization continues to grow, increasing programs, as well as additional renovations and expenses of the facility.
2.2 Organization History
In January 2011 what began as two local women meeting to discuss the “Backpack Buddies” program and food pantry at a local church grew into a meeting of twenty-six people from across the community to hear about a neighboring county’s successful program to help alleviate poverty. After hearing the presentation the entire room was in agreement that something similar was needed in our county. From this meeting Mineral Wells Center of Life was born.
Mineral Center of Life was recognized by the State of Texas as a nonprofit corporation on April 21, 2011, and the first Board of Directors Meeting was held on May 19, 2011. The organization was recognized as a tax exempt nonprofit public charity by the Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c)(3) on September 29, 2011 with an effective date of exemption of April 21, 2011.
Since that time MWCOL has had four different office locations as the organization has grown. Our present location is a 30,000 square foot building at 200 SW 5th St in Mineral Wells, Texas which is under lease with plans to purchase by March 2016.
The Board of Directors consists of nine local people that give oversight and set policy for the organization. An Executive Director is currently the only paid position (25 hours per week) and is responsible for administering policy and managing the daily affairs.
Mineral Wells Center of Life provides a wide array of classes to help clients find long-term solutions to their needs. As people progress through the classes they are further encouraged to enroll and succeed in locally available college and trade school courses to improve their job skills and position within the local workforce.
One of the first classes attended by those seeking help through the Center was “Jobs For Life.” MWCOL began providing Jobs For Life classes in January 2012. Jobs for Life is a global nonprofit organization that engages and equips organizations to address the impact of joblessness through the dignity of work. By mobilizing a network of volunteers committed to applying biblically-based training and mentoring relationships, Jobs for Life helps those in need find dignity and purpose through meaningful work.
Since 2011 Mineral Wells Center of Life has been partnering with Texas Ramp Project to provide wheelchair ramps at homes where a ramp is needed but the client can’t afford. Referrals to this program are made by a healthcare provider on behalf of the client through the Texas Ramp Project website. Once the referral is processed, approved, and funded, MWCOL is notified and a team of volunteers meet on a Saturday morning to build the ramp. As of August 2015, 25 ramps have been built and installed.
In June 2012 MWCOL accepted a request from The Salvation Army to become the social service source for The Salvation Army in Palo Pinto County. Through this relationship, MWCOL provides office space for The Salvation Army volunteers to meet with clients needing the goods and services that are available through this organization.
As more people learned about the Center of Life it was necessary to hire a part-time Executive Director. In September 2013 our first Executive Director was hired. He was paid for 25 hours per week. Over time the position became more demanding and more hours were needed, yet there were not funds to increase the pay. More coordination was needed to provide more classes and find teachers for the classes.
In March of 2014 Mineral Wells Center of Life began a “Pay It Forward” program to assist families with rent, utility connections, or other services they needed to get into a home. The Center paid the expense and the client paid back the money borrowed with no interest over a period of time that will work for their budget.
The GED Preparation Class began in May of 2014. Classes are offered one evening and one morning a week and since participants progress at their own pace they can attend one or both classes each week. Participants must score “Likely to Pass” on the GED Ready test before Mineral Wells Center of Life will register participant for that section of the GED test. Approximately 12 students have graduated and several more are close to graduating.
In October 2014 a local church in Mineral Wells approached MWCOL with a proposal to transition their food bank ministry to MWCOL. The food bank had outgrown the church and they wanted what was best for the community. MWCOL accepted the challenge and opened the MWCOL food pantry in March 2015.
In March 2015, MWCOL was offered an opportunity to purchase a 30,000 square foot building at a fourth of the price. Currently we are under a lease purchase agreement and need to raise $400,000 by March 2016.
In April 2015, the organization began a partnership with Fight Like A Girl Women’s Ministry. This ministry provides free biblical counseling for women in Palo Pinto County through a local woman certified in Biblical Counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary who has a heart for ministering to broken women.
May 2015 brought more services to the citizens of Mineral Wells. Computer classes are held one day a week to teach basic computer skills. Participants leave class feeling confident about using a computer.
Texas Workforce Solutions began partnering with Mineral Wells Center of Life in May 2015 in the “Work Experience” program. Mineral Wells Center of Life offers a place of employment for a candidate looking for work but does not have the skills needed for the position. Mineral Wells Center of Life volunteers assist the participant in learning new skills to be able to gain work experience. Texas Workforce Solutions helps by funding the jobs for eligible young people so they can gain the skills they need by actually working in the position they hope to have in the future.
Our greatest asset is our volunteers. MWCOL is a volunteer-based organization, and without volunteers the organization could not survive. Our volunteers log an average of 300 hours per month. Our volunteer base continues to grow and we continue to develop recruiting and training programs to sustain this growth.
MWCOL is a young organization with a huge vision, and we believe that as we see our community continue to grow in unity, together we can see that vision come to fruition.
2.3 Legal Entity
Mineral Wells Center of Life is a Texas nonprofit corporation and is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity.
2.4 Organization Structure
Mineral Wells Center of Life is governed by a nine member Board of Directors financially and legally responsible for the conduct of the organization. A nine member Advisory Council provides the Board of Directors advice, feedback, and recommendations. Paid staff currently consists of a part-time Executive Director who manages the daily operations of the organization. Under the leadership of the Executive Director, volunteers serve as coordinators for the nine programs of the organization: food bank, GED test preparation classes, computer classes, budgeting classes, Pay It Forward, Jobs For Life, utility assistance, Ramp Builders, and Adult-to-Adult Mentoring.