- Published: 29 December 2016. Written by Carol Kaufman
- A sponsor’s monthly contribution varies according to the grade level, from elementary school through college.
Ross Arnold, the Senior Pastor of Lakeside Presbyterian Church, recognized early on that he, along with his members, wanted to help low-income children of Lakeside with their educational needs.
- “Our church members wanted to provide scholarships to these children, but we simply didn’t have infrastructure to make this happen,” he says.
When a member of the community approached the pastor, suggesting that they create a program that connects the church with the local non-profit NCA, Arnold jumped at the idea.
That person was Amy Friend, NCA’s secretary for many years, whose husband Bill Friend is a past president and son Doug is the current president and a member of Lakeside Presbyterian.
“It seemed like a natural fit for us to work with NCA to create a scholarship program,” says Doug Friend. “We have one church and two congregations: English-speaking and Spanish-speaking. Our Spanish-speaking congregation has a number of low-income families. We have members in our English-speaking congregation with resources who want to be able to help.”
NCA is a charitable organization dating back to 1977 that supports sponsors of children who do well in school. Previously called Los Niños de Chapala y Ajijic, the rebrand to NCA was to “differentiate ourselves from other charities with the name ‘Niño,’” says Friend.
He continues: “Many kids drop out of school to help support families. The monthly income of a typical low-income family is US$200. NCA sees that these kids get an education as far as they can go.
“Within our organization, we’ve built the structure and procedures. We meet with families in need. The kids who participate in the program are required to bring in their grades. That way, we know that they are in school and we can follow how they are doing.”
Arnold has worked closely with Friend to create a vibrant program at Lakeside Presbyterian’s large facility in Riberas del Pilar.
Each month, the church holds sponsorship signups. At the December signup, 11 children received sponsors. “We had the kids’ profiles,” says Arnold. “They had been checked out that their grades were good enough and that the families needed the support.”
A sponsor’s monthly contribution varies according to the grade level, from elementary school through college. “Sponsor amounts are really only half of what it costs to put a kid through school,” says Arnold.
He says the focus during the last few years has been to optimize operations of NCA; to lower costs and create an interactive website. “We can now add kids to our program and not work so hard in doing it, since everything is now optimized.”
Along with running the NCA Bazaar in Riberas, the church puts on three major fundraisers each year.
“The bazaar operates independently and all profits are donated to our charity,” Arnold says. “When a sponsor gives us money for the student, 95 percent goes directly to that student for their educational needs. We keep only five percent for our overhead expenses. Everything else comes from fundraising.”
Their next major fundraiser is on February 11 at the Monte Carlo Hotel in Chapala. Local band Mike and the Suspects will provide the entertainment. (Friend happens to be the band’s drummer.)
“This is our first outreach program – a pilot program that has gone exceptionally well,” says Friend. “We would like to see other churches take on similar programs.”
For information on for the upcoming fundraiser, visit http://lakesideninos.org/events.