Every fall kids and parents gear up for Back to School time. Pencils are purchased and sharpened, notebooks are shoved into backpacks, crayons and markers are secured, and bus cards arrive in the mail. At Central Community Services, Inc. (CCSI), Central Baptist’s non-profit, back to school time means reaching out to area schools, receiving names of Bethel students who will be serving with us, contacting families of former students, training and orienting tutors, and getting our classroom ready for action.
Did you know that Central has it’s own non-profit corporation? CCSI was established in 2004 to enable the church to seek outside funding and to deepen our reach into the immediate Midway neighborhood. Our primary means of connecting with our neighborhood through CCSI is with our two after-school programs, After School @ Central, and Thrive for Teens. Central saw a need that we could address as it became known that children in St. Paul Public Schools were significantly behind other districts. In 1996, the church began serving these students after school to support them academically with one-on-one homework help and to pour into their lives socially and spiritually through caring adults in a safe, wholesome environment. Hundreds of children have benefitted from this opportunity to have extra time outside of the classroom to build their reading and math skills and to blossom socially.
I have directed CCSI since 2007, and directed the after-school programs since 2011, when they moved completely under the CCSI umbrella. It is my job to promote the programs, hire and supervise part-time staff, recruit and train tutors, recruit students, ensure we are running a quality program, and raise funds to support staff and programs. Our staff includes myself as director, Amalia Canepa-Green as our classroom coordinator and licensed teacher, and a Bethel student worker/intern.
Our funding comes from several sources. Central Baptist Church supports us through the general budget and by providing space, lights, heat, etc. The Central Foundation also gives us a grant each year. But over two thirds of our annual budget of $40,000 comes from individual donations and fundraisers.
When you see things in the worship folder about Scrip Sunday, that is a CCSI fundraiser. Scrip are gift cards that anyone can purchase for various retail vendors to be used just like cash for your own purchases or as gifts to others. CCSI receives a small percentage of your purchase but it adds up. Some of our best customers order $500+ in cards every month. We average around $100 a month in profits. That is typically only 8-10 orders. Imagine if we had 40-50 orders a month! Check us out on the second Sunday of each month, when orders are taken and placed. Also, if you are an Amazon.com shopper, switch your account to smile.amazon.com and select us as your nonprofit of choice, and we will receive a small percentage of your Amazon purchases each month.
Our biggest fundraiser is coming up in November. Each year, CCSI participates in Give to the Max Day. This one-day giving blitz enables us to jump on board with other Minnesota nonprofits and ask individuals to support us with one-time and monthly donations. We benefit from this collective approach by joining our small forces with a larger mechanism that is highly visible. We will once again be able to offer a matching gift so that your donations will automatically be doubled on Nov. 16. More information about how GTMD works for you and for us will be available in the next weeks. I hope you will consider a gift to CCSI on Nov. 16! Of course we accept donations anytime of the year - you can give directly to CCSI by check or online through our website, ccsimn.com. Or you can give through Central Baptist Church by designating your gift to CCSI. We don’t wish to compete or subtract from what you give to the church, but consider us when you want to support a community organization that is doing good work that makes a real difference right where you live and go to church.
One parent replied to a recent email: “I’m so excited to hear from you and to know your program is starting back up in October. I would love for my son to be back a part of that program again this year!” It is our privilege and great opportunity to serve children and families in this very much needed way. Strong children make a stronger future for the Midway! Thanks for your help and we covet your prayers as we begin a new season.
Pastor Terri Hansen