We’ve all heard that just one person can spark a huge change, but every example of that truth is an inspiration.
Several years ago, Bonnie Hahn, a member of ACTS Church in Leander, noticed that there were a number of teen mothers enrolled at Leander high schools. Many of these girls dropped out of school after having their babies, finding it next to impossible to sustain full-time schooling and parenting. The school district had no childcare program to offer, so Hahn decided to approach her church for some leadership.
In October 2015, ACTS Church opened the doors to its ACTS of Love Early Childhood Education Center. The center provides free childcare for students in Leander and Liberty Hill ISD, since neither district offers these services. A $25,000 grant from Texas District LCMS and a partnership with Early Head Start have helped to firm the center’s foundation and enabled the hire of its director, Katie Evans.
In less than two years, seven moms with children at ACTS of Love have graduated from high school. Two of them are employed full time; one is married and working; one had a second child and is working; one moved away from the area; and one is pregnant again. The center has recently launched a partnership with Concordia University Texas that allows any mother who has used the center to apply for an exclusive scholarship. “This is the first year we have been able to offer it,” says Evans, “so we are hoping to see our families begin to take advantage of that awesome opportunity!”
Mariah Garcia, who just graduated from New Hope High School, shared her experiences with ACTS of Love recently with Engage magazine: “ACTS means the world to me. The joy of ACTS is like coming home.… There’s no judgment of how young you are.… They make you feel as if you’re a part of them.”
Photography by Erik M. Lunsford / LCMS Communications