USA (MNN) ― Do you remember the ENGAGE program we told you about earlier this week?
ENGAGE stands for Equipping the Next Generation to Advance and Grow through Education, encouragement and example, and it shows moms how positive parenting can break the cycle of poverty.
Author Karol Ladd came up with the idea for ENGAGE after learning about the connection between parenting and poverty.
"God was really working in her heart to go back to the communities and work with parents," says Sandra Martinez of Buckner International. "She wanted to know if we could give her an opportunity to come and teach some classes, and work with ladies in our community."
In September 2012, Buckner came alongside ENGAGE in Dallas, Texas. Their Wynnewood Community Services Center helps impoverished families overcome difficulties with a variety of programs and services.
"She came up with her own curriculum, we looked it over, made some revisions and it's just taken off since then," says Martinez.
Many ENGAGE participants are single moms in poverty trying to raise a family with little to no support. Martinez says the transformation she sees in these women is a great blessing.
"We come across a lot of moms that are in depression, low self-esteem, [and] just don't have anyone to turn to for help or have anybody to encourage them," she explains. "A lot of them would come in here just sad, or with a sad demeanor, and now they come in here and they're smiling."
That someone would enter into their lives and offer so much encouragement and support, Martinez says, speaks volumes to the women. And it's changing how these women live their lives.
"A lot of the moms are putting into practice what they're learning here," says Martinez. "The moms [are] encouraging one another and giving each other advice of things that they've tried and how it's working for them."
Ladd plans to expand the ENGAGE program by training more volunteers in April and launching it on a broader scale this fall. Visit the ENGAGE Facebook page for the latest updates.
Buckner's community ministry serves inner-city, low-income children and families through an after-school program, food pantry, counseling services, GED/ESL classes, job readiness training, and much more. Martinez says they've seen increased participation in Buckner classes from women who've attended the ENGAGE class.
"A lot of them have been faithful about coming to class," she states. "To that class (ENGAGE), but also making it a point to participate in other classes, such as our GED classes or our Jobs for Life class."
ENGAGE also offers women prayer and support they don't get in other places.
"Miss Karol addresses the Word of God and how God loves them, and we always end up with prayer," Martinez says. "Karol is a great prayer warrior, and so they know that she will pray for them. And then she follows up [by asking] 'what's going on?'."
One woman gave her life to Christ and many are going to church again. Ask the Lord to bless and strengthen women who are trying to get out of poverty.
"Pray for them as leaders of the house, that they make wise decisions for themselves and their families. But also, as they participate in our programs, that they follow through and complete them."
You can help with this program by volunteering with Buckner. Click here to serve at-risk kids and families.
"If there are people out there that do want to volunteer," says Martinez, "they should take advantage of the opportunities that we have in serving others.
"We have a wonderful volunteer coordinator that would be happy to speak with them and guide them in the right direction to where we can use their skills and talents."