They call it a partnership, but a more accurate description might be an adoption. The New Destiny Christian Center in Apopka has made Phillis Wheatley Elementary School a church ministry. And it’s something they give a sizeable amount of time, talent and treasure.
It’s a match made in Heaven.
24 members of the church staff teamed up for a community service project at Wheatley last week in what is a monthly event. The group converged on the students at an assembly in the cafeteria where they played “Let’s Make A Deal” with a student while the rest of the audience laughed, yelled their advice, and encouraged the player on what decision to make – choose the bag, the box or what was being offered as an alternative to the hidden treasures.
Pastor Todd Lamphere took on the role of emcee and counselor as he gave the student different options in his decision making – some visible and some hidden.
“Don’t give up something you can’t see for something you can – your future,” Lamphere told the students. “Just because people say something, they may not know what they are talking about. Make sure when you get advice it’s from someone who knows what they are talking about, like a teacher, a parent or a pastor. Decisions we make affect our lives.”
After the assembly, Staff members laughed, played around with, read to and taught Dr. Seuss life lessons to classrooms filled with excited students.
“Wheatley cannot thank New Destiny enough for you coming out today,” said Dr. Linton Atkinson, the Principal at Wheatley. “I’m grateful for your participation today, and for everything you have done for our school the entire year.”
And this definitely isn’t a “one-off” kind of event for New Destiny.
This is the third year the church has partnered with the school, but each year their participation has increased. For example in the 2016-17 school year, the extensive list of goods and services provided by New Destiny include:
- Daily stocking of staff lounge with snacks and waters.
- Provided every student in need with a backpack filled with school supplies.
- Purchased Wheatley polo shirts for faculty and staff.
- Purchasing of weekly award for all students of the week.
- Faculty and Staff lounge renovation with new furniture and paint.
- Provide gift cards and door prizes for PTA events.
- Provide a staff member from church to run and teach the Media Club.
- Provide weekly staff members from church to mentor through MY Brothers Keeper program.
- Provide staff members and volunteers from church to read in classrooms.
- Provided assistance to needy Wheatley families for Thanksgiving.
- Provided Christmas gifts to many classes for School Christmas party.
- Provided the refreshments and snacks for faculty and Staff Christmas party.
- Church staff sits on the Mayor’s Community Action Team representing the needs and concerns of Wheatley.
- Church has a daily presence on the campus and is ready to assist wherever needed and to be the support for the Principal and his initiatives.
“Serving our community is the DNA of New Destiny,” said Lamphere. “We believe that communities are changed when the family is positively impacted. And we believe families, especially children benefit most when we invest and interact with the public school. This is our community. The way to impact a community is to invest in the schools. Children are our most important commodity.”
Dr. Atkinson believes that this level of service provided by a church to a school might be unprecedented.
“I’m proud of the partnership with them,” he said. It’s been very beneficial for us. I don’t know of a church that walks with a school throughout the year like this.”