West End United Methodist Church

WE Serve is an exciting project funded by the Mercy and Justice Committee’s Emerging Missions Grant. The idea originated with Ed and Crys Zinkiewicz, who interviewed several West End Members for their website, “Retire To Volunteering” (Check it out at retiretovolunteering.com). Many of the ministries these volunteers served were supported by West End grants. In an effort to help our congregation get to know one another, get to know organizations we support in Nashville, and be encouraged to volunteer, the Zinkiewicz’ birthed the WE Serve project. We hope you’ll listen to the interviews below and be inspired to pray for, give to, and volunteer at these fantastic organizations.


Standing In The Gap // Tools for Schools // HG Hill Partnership

    Despite the evidence of growth and boom times Nashville proudly displays, the public schools are not benefiting. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Tennessee’s funding per students is the sixth lowest in the nation. (The national average is $3,000 greater.) Children bear the brunt of the inequity. Loving all God’s children, West End United Methodist Church is standing in the gap. 
    West End member Bill Farris, having honed his interest in construction through 20+ Habitat for Humanity builds, continues his passion through Tools for Schools, a not-for-profit group of volunteers who craft needed bookcases, cabinets, backpack cubbies, specialty tables, computer desks, band instrument lockers, garden sheds, shelving to help teachers create a better learning environment for students.
    The items Bill and his friends build are not in the school system’s tight budget. In its 13 years of existence, Nashville Tools for Schools has saved the schools well over a million dollars. Along with other donors, West End UMC, through a Missions and Outreach grant, helps to defray the cost of the materials. Teachers themselves often partially pay toward the expense from their own funds. All are standing in the gap so that students benefit.  
    Bill feels he benefits too. He knows his work is needed and valued and he has fun learning new skills and working with the other volunteers, many of whom are retired, many of whom are regulars, as much as three to four mornings a week. New volunteers are always welcome regardless of experience or skill. 
    In addition to supporting the education of children with volunteers and Mission and Outreach funding through Project Transformation, Preston Taylor Ministries, and the Great Day of Service opportunities, West End UMC participates with Belle Meade United Methodist Church in a partnership that serves nearby H. G. Hill Middle School. Despite the relative financial stability of the west Nashville area, 65% of the school’s 690 students qualify for the free lunch program, an established marker of poverty. The gap is wide.
    Although relatively new, the partnership has already provided a semester of tutors and lunch buddies, as well as contributions to the Last-minute School Supplies Drive. This school year, in addition to one-on-one tutors and lunch buddies, West End is committed to assist in all four “pillars” of the program: student achievement, family engagement, teacher and staff encouragement, and in-kind donations (such as the painting project of the Great Day of Service). Watch for opportunities and details throughout the school year.
    All children are God’s beloved. Too many children, even in this city of plenty, face a crevasse separating them from a vibrant future. It’s too easy to fall through the cracks. At least some children will find a bridge to greater potential and well-being—because the church is standing in the gap. 


Tools 4 Schools // HG Hill Partnership