New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s counseling and child education centers received a $20,000 Baptist Community Ministries (BCM) emergency funding grant recently to offset the costs of implementing COVID-19 health and sanitation guidelines.
The funds will benefit the Leeke Magee Counseling Center (LMCC) and the Danielson Early Learning Center (ELC) at NOBTS which provide affordable counseling services and child education services to the underserved in the Greater New Orleans area.
“Several of our community families had been without childcare of any kind since March which impacted their ability and availability to work outside the home,” said Pattie Shoener, vice president of business affairs. “Parents were grateful to have a safe, reliable, trusted Early Learning Center to which they could bring their children.”
Shoener said parents responded promptly on the first day of the ELC re-opening, filling it to near capacity. The LMCC has continued to provide “very vital support” at a time when many have experienced financial stress, uncertainty, and a sense of feeling alone, Shoener explained.
“BCM has reached out to help us help our community by serving their children and helping their mental health in such a way that they truly feel like partners in reaching out to better our community,” Shoener said.
BCM is a faith-based, Christian philanthropic organization supporting projects and programs dedicated to improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of individuals in a five-parish, greater New Orleans area, according to the organization’s website.
Last year, NOBTS received a $1,005,000 core funding grant from BCM supporting the work of the counseling and child education centers. The grant is being distributed over a three-year period.
NOBTS was eligible to apply for the limited emergency funds due to its status as a current BCM grantee in good standing. The application for the funds stated that preference would be given to “grantee-partners whose work aligns with BCM’s strategic priorities” of early childhood education and care for behavioral health and trauma-informed care.
Charles Beasley, BCM President and CEO, pledged the BCM’s continued commitment to its partners in his letter to NOBTS announcing the award. Beasley wrote, “Together, we can help our community deal with the many challenges we are all facing by combatting the most complex problems affecting our community.”
In the application for the award, a commitment was made to use the funds “in the hopes that once granted, we may continue to serve and eternally impact hundreds of families within Greater New Orleans through the child care and counseling services provided by NOBTS.”
Funds provided to the ELC allow for the hire of additional staff in order to meet state requirements for a reduced student-to-teacher ratio. Other expenses offset by the emergency funds include employee-related training for reorganizing and sanitizing the center.
At the LMCC, funds will be used to help train faculty, staff, and students in Telecounseling, a program allowing for virtual counseling sessions. As the LMCC conference rooms reopen for use, the funds will help with the cost of installing plexiglass and heightened sanitation procedures.
Mark Hagelman, director of development, pointed to Matthew 25:35-40 in expressing his gratitude for the work of BCM and its partnership with NOBTS.
“How appreciative I am to have BCM empower NOBTS financially to care for the hurting in our community,” Hagelman said. “Their care for New Orleans is what Christ instructs the faithful to do.”