Mission Waco provides variety of volunteer programs for students, adults

Christian organization Mission Waco strives to combat poverty in Waco. Logo courtesy of Mission Waco.

Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

Mission Waco is a foundation based on Christian teachings to help combat poverty and support the underserved in Waco. Since 1991, the foundation has expanded to have multiple outlets for volunteering.

Mission Waco volunteer director Bailie Rouse said she has worked with Baylor groups such as American Medical Women’s Association, Zeta Zigga Zamma and Kappa Chi Alpha to get plugged into volunteering with Mission Waco.

“We have a lot of programs people can choose from,” Rouse said. “My hope is to find their passion and what they’re excited about and then be that connector for them.”

Some of the many volunteer opportunities at Mission Waco include a renewable energy and agricultural project called Urban REAP, a clothing resale store called The Clothesline, after-school programs, Jubilee Theatre and Chapel.

Houston junior Maggie Summerlin said she heard about Mission Waco her sophomore year through her sorority, Chi Omega, which frequently volunteers at The Rock — the children’s program.

Summerlin began as an intern for Mission Waco this past summer and now volunteers four days a week for the youth after-school program.

“I love being able to create a safe space where a child gets to thrive and feel like someone cares about them and loves them beyond the four walls of their home,” Summerlin said. “I think it’s a special gift to have to create another location and another person that a kid can find safety in.”

For people interested in volunteering, Rouse holds two orientation sessions each week, one via Zoom and one in person. From there, the individual meets with Rouse to find which program best fits them.

Rouse said the after-school programs gain the most traction from students, but there are other areas that need extra assistance such as Urban REAP and Chapel.

“We would love to see more like student groups and individuals coming to our Chapel at the shelter,” Rouse said. “So that’s one area that we’re really hoping to develop to bring community together and people from all walks of life.”

Chapel is a fellowship time held once a week at My Brother’s Keeper — Mission Waco’s homeless shelter. Rouse said volunteers do not need to be a pastor or in ministry to participate in this program.

For Rouse, she said her volunteering experience is not about what she knows but what she gains from the people she is helping.

“For me, that’s been a big impact is just being able to slow down and hear what people have to say and learn from them,” Rouse said. “And not to think that I know it all or have it all together, because I definitely don’t.”

Summerlin said her volunteer experience at Mission Waco has been transformative because she is face-to-face with the people she serves, and they have changed her perspective. Despite being a full-time student, Summerlin said she wishes she had more time in her schedule to volunteer with the youth.

“Loving kids and loving people is a big ministry point in my heart,” Summerlin said. “So, it’s about making time for the things you care about.”

Volunteering is open year-round. To get involved, contact Rouse or attend an orientation session.

“There’s something for everyone at Mission Waco,” Rouse said. “We are not lacking in passion and purpose. So I think if people have a certain area that they want to go into, this is a way to continue to increase that passion within them.”