Florida philanthropist Alice W. Lockmiller (1910-2007) lived her lifetime as a shrewd and successful businesswoman. Trained as a teacher, she eventually moved into real estate and citrus to become a mover and a shaker in Florida agriculture.
|Alice W. Lockmiller|
Lockmiller was also a life-long Methodist and dedicated to the church. Over her lifetime she established numerous funds that still support mission, construction, education and ministry initiatives designed to help children and youth.
A significant group of Lockmiller trusts (totaling approximately $3.7 million) is administered by the Florida United Methodist Foundation, said vice-president for communications Suzanne McGovern. These trusts help sustain a variety of programs both in Florida and abroad.
According to Melinda Trotti, director of Justice and Outreach Ministries for the Florida Conference, Lockmiller monies do a lot to support the mission of the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, a collection of nonprofit groups including the Florida Conference. This year, $25,000 was specifically designated to help United Methodist churches and agencies reach into the community to meet the needs of children and youth and their families in economic or social distress.
The Coalition for Advocacy and Ministry with Children, a cooperative effort between the Conference and community groups, is responsible for distributing the Lockmiller grants, Trotti said.
“We have connected Lockmiller grant-giving to not just outreach to children in the community but also to three specific steps in the (Partnership’s) Ten Point Plan. We also use our influence as churches receiving summer meals to advocate for healthy, high quality meals for all of the children in that county,” she said.
This year 27 churches and organizations were awarded grants ranging from $500 to $2,000, boosting programs that include tutoring, summer camps, English as a second language, back-to-school packs and life skills. Most of the grants, however, went to feeding programs for kids.
One such initiative is the Pack-a-Sack ministry conducted by at least three United Methodist churches in the Conference. The ministry uses volunteers to prepare sacks of food that are distributed to kids on Fridays to ensure they will have food on weekends when they do not eat school meals. At Palm Harbor UMC, Ron Evers, Director of Mission for the church, is point man for the effort.
“Our church has a passion for anything that has to do with kids,” he said.
|Volunteers from Palm Harbor United Methodist Church pack food for children at the Calvin Hunsinger School in Clearwater. The church participates in the Pack-a-Sack program with help from the Lockmiller Trust. (Photo by Derek Maul)|
Palm Harbor linked up with a feeding program at the Calvin A. Hunsinger School for children with special needs through United Methodist Cooperative Ministries in Clearwater.
“We started out preparing lunches for ten students that they could take home for the weekends,” Evers said. “Now we’re feeding 36. People here are so fired up about it.”
With no allocated missions budget, programs like Pack-a-Sack are funded by as-you-go donations, Evers said. Palm Harbor applied for a Lockmiller grant and received $1,000.
“The grant adds seven kids,” he said.
A key provision of the Lockmiller funds, according to guidelines published by the Florida United Methodist Foundation, is the incentive to increase local ministry rather than simply maintain what is already going on.
“Applications must either show goals for increasing current ministry in specific ways or be adding new components to their ministry,” the document reads. “The Lockmiller Grant cannot be a source for ongoing support – even for exceedingly worthy ministries.”
The net result is the addition of new or revamped outreach programs as local funding is solidified, and Lockmiller monies are freed up to facilitate other enterprising ideas.
Tammy Fisher – project coordinator for Justice and Outreach Ministries – reported that Conference churches are utilizing these funds to accomplish “amazing ministry to those in need.”
“Christ’s love is being felt by many because of their generosity and commitment to continue to reach those that are so desperate in today’s economy. It’s our prayer that we continue to find funding and for some, training, to help equip local churches in our Conference as they continue to show the love of Christ in tangible ways,” she said.
BURSTING WITH ENTHUSIASM
As for Pack-a-Sack in Palm Harbor, the church is bursting with more than enough enthusiasm to expand the work the Lockmiller funding makes possible.
“We have over 30 people volunteering,” Evers said. “Now we’re working to see how we can be involved on a deeper level.”
Kelly Sisco, social worker at the Calvin Hunsinger school, sends the church heartwarming notes about the effect of the program.
“I wish you could see how the children light up when they see me with the cart of sacks ready to be handed to them,” she wrote. “I had a student tell me he is happy to have his sack on the weekends because then he does not eat as much of what his mother prepares in order to save it for the rest of the family. He has so little at home but still does not want to take away from his family.”
For Evers and his team at Palm harbor UMC, the grant money came at exactly the right time.
“Prior to our receiving the grant we were feeding 28 students,” he said. “We had about reached our limit. Then I was able to tell the school about the $1,000 and our ability to feed an additional seven.”
It turns out the school had several qualified students waiting in the wings.
Sisco wrote, “I checked my email and saw that God has performed another miracle.”
To find out how your church can be involved with a Lockmiller grant, contact Justice and Outreach Ministries at the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church: 800-282-8011, ext. 504, or email@example.com.