Easter Offering 2020
St. Luke’s 2019 Easter Offering will support PM PALS Ministry.
St. Luke’s PM Pals grew out of an experience five volunteers had at a program called Night OWLS at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. I decided to volunteer at Night OWLS because I was new to Dallas as a recent college graduate, and I was looking to meet people, and thought I would “get out of my comfort zone” and volunteer with children with special needs. I quickly grew to love the program and the children. After several former Night OWLS’ volunteers moved to Houston for different reasons, Natalie Kubik called us up and asked if we wanted to start a Night OWLS-style program in Houston. I quickly told her that I would happily help the program get started, but was not interested in leading the program since I thought it was too big of a time commitment. It is funny how God leads us out of our comfort zones and challenges us to help when we do not think we have time. After a suggestion from Highland Park Church, Natalie approached St. Luke’s UMC about starting a PM Pals’ program and by coincidence, sat next to Dr. Moore’s wife on her first visit to the church and mentioned the program. The church generously embraced the idea of the program, and it started several months later in February 2005 with a handful of volunteers and a handful of children with special needs.
In the beginning, we struggled to recruit enough volunteers to support the growing number of children, so Natalie and my husband had several of their accountant co-workers volunteering (and accountants are randomly quite talented at working with children with special needs), and I had several of my neighbors and family members volunteering. The volunteer base finally started to grow with the support of church members, and local student groups from the University of Houston and Texas Women’s University School of Occupational Therapy. I took over coordinating the program in 2006 when the St. Luke’s staff member leading the program decided to step down, and I thought I would take on the job temporarily until I finished graduate school. Fifteen years later, I continue to love the children, their parents, and the amazing volunteers that give their time on a Friday night to provide respite to some hardworking parents and create a place of love and acceptance to their beautiful children. I am grateful to St. Luke’s UMC for taking a chance on a new program and supporting it so fully.
One of the parents at our program once described the PM Pals’ volunteers as “God’s ambassadors;” and another parent said that it is as a program that helps their family feel less isolated and reminds them that their community has not forgotten them.
PM Pals, St. Luke’s “kids night out” program for families of children with special needs and their siblings, is celebrating its 15th birthday.
At PM Pals, each child is paired with an adult volunteer “pal” for the evening. Together, they participate in games and crafts, and experience special visitors like magicians, or a visit from a pet ministry. PM Pals is held one Friday night each month at no cost to church members and the community and allows parents a much needed opportunity for a night out to reconnect with each other and rest.