In the early 1960’s, Mildred McWhorter began focusing on underserved communities in Houston with the Union Baptist Association, there were only a handful of community centers in the country. McWhorter forged ahead anyway, turning a house in Near Northside into an ad-hoc center that offered after-school programs and ESL classes. A gym and classrooms followed, and the Joy Center in the Ship Channel opened three years later. Today, two centers and a legacy of changed lives speak to the strength of Mildred McWhorter’s original mission.
Mission Centers of Houston has taken an even more innovative approach to serving its neighbors. Engagement now goes beyond just classes and relief programs—half of the volunteers at a given Mission Centers of Houston actually come from the surrounding neighborhood. Involving the community in program decisions and ownership is leading to lasting transformation.
But just like McWhorter in the early days, most of Mission Centers of Houston’s staff are trained in benevolence and social work. They know that making a difference involves small things too, like setting up wireless printers and running a spreadsheet. But when you’ve got a vibrant, busy organization, the small things get passed by. For Mission Centers of Houston, gaining help from skilled, expert volunteers is very welcome, making for a more effective use of the time. And for a program with a history of growth and innovation, time is of the essence.