Do you believe that giving is contagious? A group of McKinney, Texas business owners and community leaders certainly do. Their generosity and charitable spirit not only helped people, but their giving has spurred a ripple effect of generosity across the community.
It all began with a small church that hosts worship services from an old building on the east side of McKinney, Texas —an area impacted by economic hardships and poverty. Many of the areas’ residents struggle to find jobs and provide the basic necessities for their families. In the middle of so much darkness, The Word Church has been a source of hope, restoration and light. Men, women and families come to the church not only to worship, but to receive a warm meal, clothes and even a place to sleep. In addition, the church offers job training programs, money management skills, counseling, job referrals and other resources to help those who need guidance and a hand-up.
“The goal for this church is to create a place where people in need can heal, be restored and connect with their families, their community and most importantly, with God. Our church hosts worship services and bible study groups, but we want to be even more to those in need. A house on the adjacent lot provides transitional housing for single mothers and the working poor who are trying to make ends meet. We want to be a resource for the community while sharing the love of Christ,” explained The Word Church Pastor, Robert Dyson.
And even as their building was falling down around them, The Word Church was steadfast to heal and restore those in the community from the inside out. But to provide even more resources, the church building and house were in desperate need of repairs that were beyond what the congregation could provide on its own.
A Community United
Enter the C12 Group of Collin/Denton, a peer advisory forum for Christian CEOs and owners committed to building great businesses for a greater purpose. C12 members focus on critical business topics to strengthen their businesses while finding ways to honor God through ministry. This network of men and women who all own or lead a business in the area became aware of The Word Church eighteen months ago. The church’s needs were apparent. C12 members decided that applying their skills, time and energy was a way to bless their local community—and the outcome is beyond what anyone could have imagined.
C12 member, Sam Cuccia who owns a telecommunications consulting company, is one of the nearly dozen C12 members who have been part of the team helping The Word Church. From his perspective, it all started with a prompting from God. Cuccia recalls hearing a sermon at his church, Christ Fellowship Church, when Pastor Bruce Miller (also a C12 member) shared stories and a video clip documenting the poverty and heartache in McKinney’s east side.
“McKinney, Texas was named the best place to live in America by Money magazine. But if you travel to the east side, it is a different story. How can this be happening in my city and I don’t even know it? It shook me,” explained Cuccia. “After witnessing photos of poverty and loss, I wanted to do something, but I just wasn’t sure what to do. Perhaps this was the vision from God I was supposed to follow.” And so he did.
After speaking with his church, Cuccia was advised to meet with 3e McKinney, a ministry that brings care, hope and transformation to the city through the collaborative efforts of many churches. He learned about The Word Church and how Pastor Dyson wanted to make a difference to the east side. Cuccia soon discovered how this church was providing worship and support services to residents, but was having a difficult time operating out of their aging, dilapidated building.
“That’s when I asked fellow member, Russell Polk, who owns a construction and remodeling company to come with me to meet with leaders of The Word Church,” Cuccia explained. The critical needs and opportunities were immediately clear. With a passion in their hearts to help, Polk and Cuccia discussed the opportunity to assist the church with all the C12 Groups in Collin and Denton counties. Many other C12 members felt the same tug on their hearts and asked how they could help.
Local business owners went to the church to meet with Pastor Dyson and his leaders. “These men and women are busy running their own businesses but, they so selflessly donate their time, financial contributions and talents with repairing the building. They are hands on, in the trenches getting it done, working side by side, all while relationships are being created and strengthened. I have never been around an organization as need-focused.”
Pastor Dyson elaborated, “Giving, honoring God and blessing others through time and talents is exactly what these men and women are doing. We have a building that was falling apart, but this building is a source of guidance and healing for our community. If we can restore this building, then we can restore more people.”
And the Project Began
While Polk assisted in many of the assessments and construction activities needed to make the critical improvements to the church building, C12 member Jim Schwalls who owns tax and real estate companies introduced Pastor Dyson to a banker who arranged a loan and helped negotiate a purchase price for the house. Schwalls explained, “The Word Church was leasing the building with an option to purchase. We unanimously knew purchasing the building and the home on the adjacent lot was the right option.” Schwalls shared, “This was God at work. Everything fell into place.”
The church closed on the house and building in November of 2015. In January 2016 two families moved into the house. The church remodel and restoration project is currently underway.
The Gift of Giving
“I see this spirit of giving and volunteering now spreading to other sectors of the city to include city leaders,” shared Pastor Dyson. Many in the community have been led to be part of a blessing that has a tremendous ripple effect. Husbands, wives, families and local residents are all coming together to work on the church and volunteering to clean the building, paint, help maintain the grounds and donate furniture.
“The Holy Spirit is changing our hearts. The church needed thousands of dollars in electrical repairs and improvements, but the Lord provided. A local electrician donated his time and was even able to have the parts sold to the church at a wholesale price. A new roof was required. A roofing company donated shingles. We needed appliances, they were donated. People are opening their hearts and helping in any way they feel called to help,” explained Schwalls.
C12 Group Chairman, Tom Hawes shared, “These local business owners are unique in that they are business owners who make it a priority to honor God in all things. Sharing their business skills and talents, C12 members formed an advisory group to The Word Church providing strategic direction, financial insights and business guidance. Truly, their businesses are serving a greater purpose.”
Rising Up to Meet the Community Needs
Pastor Dyson believes these men and woman were a God-send and knows that they would not be able to meet the needs of the community and fix the church if it wasn’t for the expertise and business acumen of this group. “They helped us with the details of financing the new building, helped us put a transitional home together for single mothers –all within a budget. In every area of this church, we have been touched by their blessings and partnership,” Dyson said.
The Word Church also helps individuals on the streets or those facing difficult times. Pastor Dyson shared the story about an east McKinney resident who is fighting cancer. She is facing enormous health care bills and since she is sick, can no longer work and pay her rent. Many individuals have donated money, food and clothes on her behalf. A C12 member created a benevolence fund within his company and has offered to donate part of the fund to help this woman pay her bills. Others are working with the insurance companies to help her get the best heath care benefits.
A Source of Light and Inspiration
“As business owners the big question we ask is how can we use our business to do what God wants us to do in our community. How can we get involved and make a difference?” Cuccia explained.
For Cuccia and his fellow C12 members, they see the impacts of their charitable spirit transforming a once aging building into a source of hope and light for so many who stand in darkness. This team of business leaders know it takes more than writing a check to help. It is about God leading them to help those in need and to help end the poverty in McKinney by offering genuine support and direction.
The intangible gifts are what makes this project so unique. Beyond paint, furniture and a new roof, the generosity comes in the form of volunteers creating marketing plans, organizing fundraisers and coat drives, and drafting strategic plans for The Word Church.
Pastor Dyson feels the change and transformation that occurs from the entire community is something greater than just what a small group or an individual can achieve on their own.
“The people in east McKinney do not need a hand out, they need a hand up,” said Pastor Dyson. “They need work, coaching, training, guidance and someone who truly cares. Providing a hand-up in life and connecting them with Christ is the vision of this church and I look forward to being part of this amazing journey.”
Hawes shared, “This is such an uplifting story and inspiring experience to me and others. It shows how men and women of different backgrounds, vocations and circumstances can unite to serve the community together. We are honored to work with The Word Church and to remember that we all have something to contribute. When members of the community pull together for a united cause, the power and inspiration becomes unstoppable.”