Heating up rice, beans, and tamales for the Highland Lakes Crisis Network’s Christmas dinner for those in the transformational living program are Rebekah Stephenson (left), Angie Martinez, Jaelyn Nelson, and Pat Hatch. The nonprofit borrowed the kitchen at First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls for its meal prep. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell
Christmas dinner was delivered to 30 families in the Highland Lakes Crisis Network’s transformational living program by volunteer shepherds on Friday, Dec. 23, despite the biting cold temperatures.
Volunteers in the program met at First United Methodist Church of Marble Falls to heat up tamales and make rice and beans Friday morning. Around 4 p.m., the tamales and meals donated by Chuck Smith, who owns Moonshine Restaurant in Austin and Cedar Park, were loaded and delivered door to door in the Highland Lakes. The restaurant owner attends a Marble Falls church, according to Jaelyn Nelson, a Crisis Network employee and director of the Burnet County Hunger Alliance.
“Our transformational living program is for families who used to be homeless or are homeless,” Nelson said. “They are assigned a volunteer shepherd to help them.”
Shepherds are trained to work with families to help them break the cycle of poverty.
“There are a lot of generational cycles of poverty,” Nelson said. “Our goal is to get families out of those cycles.”
Families in the program learn how to seek educational opportunities to get better jobs, develop a budget, and make responsible spending choices. They also learn about others sources of help.
“To be a shepherd is to basically be a longtime friend,” Nelson said. “You walk through the stuff of life with them, take them to church, give them a sense of community, help them learn to live a sustainable life.”
To become a volunteer or to receive help, call the Highland Lakes Crisis Network at 325-423-3662 or visit its website at highlandlakescrisisnetwork.com.