Thatcher and Barton Begin Partnerships with Father’s Heart Ministries & God’s Love We Deliver

Essential businesses and organizations remain open during the spread of COVID-19, including several ministries near and dear to The King’s College.

Barton Blood Drive at House Comp.
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As many New Yorkers have been urged to stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19, essential businesses and organizations remain open, including several ministries near and dear to The King’s College. Two such ministries are Father’s Heart Ministries and God’s Love We Deliver, the most recent additions to a group of eight NYC organizations partnered with the student Houses at King’s.

All ten Houses have a service partner, typically a New York-based ministry or charity like New York Gospel Mission (Reagan and Elizabeth I), the Bowery Mission (ten Boom), and charity: water (Bonhoeffer), among others. Houses volunteer with these organizations through the year to collaborate on service projects and organize on-campus fundraisers and awareness campaigns.

With the College’s switch to online instruction through the rest of the semester, House volunteering schedules have been disrupted and members look forward to resuming their volunteering once life returns to normal in the city. In the meantime, read about why the Houses of Thatcher and Barton founded new partnerships this academic year.

Practical service for New York City neighbors has been a part of the College’s programming since 2004 through an initiative called City Engagement. For the first ten years of its existence, City Engagement connected King’s students at large with local opportunities for serving New York City. During these years, some special relationships developed between Houses and particular charities. For example, the House of Barton hosted blood drives with the American Red Cross (founded by Clara Barton herself) as early as 2005, according to Dean of Students David Leedy.

In 2014, City Engagement officially partnered each House with a local organization, says Christian formation coordinator Joey Willis. The House of Barton formalized its relationship with American Red Cross, and The House of Thatcher was paired with the International Justice Mission (IJM). In the 2018-19 academic year, the City Engagement initiative was renamed “Service Partners” to reflect its focus on partnering with ministries that serve the needy.

However, in summer 2019, the American Red Cross informed The King’s College that the organization would no longer be conducting blood drives in New York City. The reason, according to Willis, was that New York City blood drives did not typically collect enough blood donations to be viable for the Red Cross, with their limited resources and workers. Although the House of Barton’s on-campus blood drives have consistently met blood collection requirements, the new Red Cross policy meant that the House could no longer conduct blood drives at the school or in any of NYC’s boroughs.

As Barton blood drives were the primary way that Barton partnered with the Red Cross each year, the House’s executive team decided to search for a new avenue for service. With guidance from Joey and Kylie Willis and with the input from current House members, Barton eventually chose to partner with God’s Love We Deliver, an organization based not far from King’s on Chambers Street that prepares and delivers meals to those in need.

Marisa Recker (MCA ’21) served as the chamberlain for Barton in 2018-19 and played a major role in running Red Cross blood drives at the school throughout the year. Recker says, “I was really sad to hear that they [the Red Cross] were no longer doing the blood drives in NYC. I really loved partnering with the Red Cross, and it was so much fun to see so many students that were excited and able to give blood. I think it was a great way for Barton to engage with the school community on a whole.” Recker has been encouraged by the new partnership, however. Although service opportunities for Barton at God’s Love We Deliver have been limited by COVID-19, Recker reports that the response from the House about their new partner has been very positive.

The other change in service partner came about when Taylor Dickerson (JCS ’20) founded an IJM student chapter in the fall 2019 semester. Joey Willis explained that IJM prefers to structure its relationship with colleges through a student organization (as opposed to a larger entity like a House), as awareness campaigns are most effective when organized by a smaller group of distinctively passionate students.

Thatcher began looking for a new service partner after the College’s IJM chapter was approved as a student org. After six years of partnering with IJM, Thatcher was looking forward to starting a new relationship with an organization that could offer more opportunities for anyone in the House to do hands-on service.

Rachel Williamson (MCA ’21), service coordinator for the House of Thatcher, has been encouraged by Thatcher’s response to their new service partner, Father’s Heart Ministries, an organization which offers several programs to help the needy, including a soup kitchen and food pantry. For the first time, Williamson explained, House members have been able to physically serve together. This academic year, members of Thatcher have volunteered at Father’s Heart on six separate occasions, and the House placed third in the Day of Service competition with seventeen Thatchers volunteering.

Willis noted, “I actually like the challenge that our partnerships present to our Houses as they have to struggle to figure out how to serve in sometimes non-traditional ways.” The choice to change the service partnerships was due to operational circumstances, not just because the relationships became “challenging.” He went on, “But with Barton and Thatcher, we [changed partners] because our Houses could not effectively serve with [these organizations] any longer. We changed because of operational circumstances, not because we wanted to make it easier on Houses to find ways to serve.”

Photo Caption: When the Red Cross announced that they would no longer host blood drives in New York City, the House of Clara Barton had to find a new service partner. The House commemorated their long-standing Red Cross partnership during the House History competition this February.

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