A 2015 study by Harvard University showed that Forsyth County, NC was the worst county in which to be born in poverty. With few exceptions, those born in poverty in Winston-Salem have the most difficult time escaping poverty than anywhere else in America. This is alarming and concerning. However, Pastor Melanie Bell of City Lights Ministry is doing her best to shine a light on the problem. Since 2014, Melanie and her team have provided mobile food pantries and clothes closets in impoverished neighborhoods and provided beds to children who have nothing on which to sleep.
“Our mobile services allowed us to go into the neighborhoods,” said Melanie. “Where transportation was a challenge, we have eased that burden by directly taking their needs to their neighborhoods. We have also brought VBS-style Bible lessons into inner-city neighborhoods, and even more recently – we have offered a Bright Start program for four-year-olds.”
“However,” Melanie continued, “We have so many more in need. As we’ve evaluated our space capacities and evaluated the programs that we know could help these families we serve, we started looking for the perfect property to serve as a community center.”
This step is critical to the ongoing service to the children in need. “We are in search of property that can accommodate basketball games and other sports activities. We need classrooms so we can expand our Bright Start Programs for kindergarten readiness. A playground, fellowship hall, industrial kitchen, and lunchroom are all on our wish list. And we’re trusting in God to bring the perfect property to fill these needs.”
“We feel confident that through the purchase of a community center, we can help these inner-city kids with after-school tutoring. It’s well-proven that education can make or break a child’s success, and certainly, it’s instrumental for breaking the cycles of poverty. These are smart, bright kids. They just need a chance. And, our ministry is growing in order to give them all the chances they need and deserve.”
Melanie and her team are looking forward to using a community center in various ways, including their summer camp programs, future music lessons, drama programs and sports. “Our warehouse will continue to operate as normal with our bed production, but our plan is to utilize our two buses to bring children to the community center where they can be fed – not only physically, but mentally and spiritually, as well. We include Bible studies in all our programs, and we will also offer worship nights for adults.”
City Lights Ministry, like all non-profits, is dependent upon donations and financial support from generous givers who want to do their part to help. “We are actively fundraising for the purchase of a building,” said Melanie. “Our goal is to raise a minimum of $300,000, and we are asking our community to help. We are also asking for prayers that the Lord will lead us to a perfect location. The generous support from those who can contribute will ensure our ministry can grow to meet the needs of those who just need to be shown the light of Jesus. That’s what we’re all about. Shining His light on our community in order to help others.”
Learn more! Visit City Lights Ministry online or call 336.831.1003. Donations can also be made by texting GIVE or DONATE to 336.565.7599. Online donations can be made on the website, or checks can be mailed to 1600 Williamson Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27107.
SIDEBAR # 1
Christmas is coming soon, and if you’re looking for a great way to support others, consider helping City Lights Ministry with their annual adopt-a-child for Christmas program. Choose a child, shop for the child and bring their gifts. City Lights Ministries will make sure gifts are distributed so that kids can have a great Christmas through your generosity.
SIDEBAR # 2
City Lights Ministry plans to use a community center for:
- Bright Start
- Summer Camps
- Food Prep and Distribution
- Celebrate Recovery, Bible Studies and Tutoring
- Worship Nights and Services