In 2004 we wrote PTM’s current mission statement*. Our board and staff met in the fellowship hall of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and we kept trying new phrases and ideas to articulate what we felt was happening and what we wanted to happen at PTM. After each attempt, Brad Gray, Center for Nonprofit Management consultant, would ask, “does this statement get you out of
bed on a Saturday morning to serve?”. Going back to the drawing board, we landed on two phrases (“joy-filled friendships” and “God-inspired dreams”) that passed Brad’s test. PTM’s mission statement has helped us to say “yes” to opportunities—to serve youth at St. Luke’s Community House and McGruder Center, to grow from elementary school to middle school and to high school, to add one-on-one mentoring, and to provide weekend sports programming. PTM’s mission statement has also helped us to say “no” to some really good opportunities and genuine needs—to provide furniture, clothing, and food; to offer rent and utility bill assistance; to provide transportation for families, and others. It has given clarity and focus.
In March, 2020 we face the threat of despair as we only begin to see the direct and indirect fallout from institutional shut downs. Families who already struggle in a normal routine and have no margin for a minor emergency are living in daily emergency. We do not know the unintended consequences of isolation, increased anxiety, and amplified trauma that will certainly plague the families PTM serves. Facing this desperate season, PTM will by necessity temporarily shift its strategy in order to continue pursuing “joy-filled friendships and God-inspired dreams”.
PTM’s program leaders have built great relationships with parents and students. They will be consistently checking in with families and assessing their needs. As of March 22, 2020 those needs have included food, transportation costs, child care, technological connection, and other bills. PTM will be able to refer to partner agencies, collect supplemental food, raise money through emergency assistance giving to help families directly with financial concerns, and offer limited and modified programming for children (adhering to CDC, state, and metro guidelines). The “joy-filled friendships” that have already been established will help ensure assistance is getting to places where the need is greatest.
As with other concerns surrounding a global pandemic, there is no way to know how long this strategy shift will last. I do know that one day we will look back on this time with gratitude for the ways we stayed true to building “joy-filled friendships” and “God-inspired dreams”. I am thankful for an excellent, creative, and compassionate staff, a wise board of directors, and the experience we have of a faithful God providing in abundance.
*Preston Taylor Ministries (PTM) empowers children and youth to discover and live their God-inspired dreams, develop a love for learning, and build joy-filled friendships that glorify Christ Jesus.