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Local church to help those in need

By: Thomas Franz | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published September 9, 2015


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Michelle Stateczny was praying for a sign that a recent career change had placed her where she was needed most.

Stateczny had decided to pursue a career in social work, which meant going back to school and being an intern after nine years of professional work.

She is now in her first semester of graduate school, and is completing an internship in social work with Carlson Elementary School in Warren.

Carlson is a Title I school where 100 percent of the students qualify for a free breakfast and lunch program.

While discussing her new career with Darin Weiss, the pastor of Hope City Church, based in Macomb Township, she found the sign she was looking for.

Weiss had been looking for a school that his church could “adopt,” and Stateczny’s school proved to be an appropriate match.

“This was something Pastor Darin had been praying about, and I had been praying on the side asking for a sign to see if this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life, and literally a week later we had that conversation,” Stateczny said.

She and Weiss went to work on coming up with ways in which the church could help Carlson.

Their goal is now to fill 100 backpacks with food, school supplies and personal care products for the students at Carlson. They hope to receive all donations by Sept. 20, when the church will be hosting an event in celebration of its one-year anniversary.

“In order to make a difference, it doesn’t have to be some grand donation or grand event to make an impact on people’s lives,” Weiss said. “Everyone around here has something they can part ways with. People can get involved. You can make a bigger impact than you think with very little.”

At the school, Stateczny said she’s gotten the same reaction from administrators and teachers when she tells them about the project.

“Every person I’ve spoken to at the school, their immediate reaction is tears. It’s tears of gratefulness and joy and disbelief,” Stateczny said. “The school has expressed so many times what a huge impact this is going to have on the lives of the kids, the teachers and the parents as well.”

For Weiss, the backpack project is just the beginning of what he hopes will be a partnership with Carlson to fulfill his vision of adopting a school.

“I wanted to develop relationships with all of the students and families there, because at the end of the day we don’t just want to be giving handouts — we want to give a hand-up,” Weiss said. “We want to be able to develop relationships with families and be able to help in more ways than supplies, whether it’s tutoring or other ways we can potentially help.”

Stateczny said that several people have already inquired about tutoring opportunities or programs like Big Brother, Big Sister.

“At the end of the day, the way we’re going to overcome poverty and the hardship that people are in, it’s not going to be through handing out stuff,” Weiss said. “It’s going to be through people coming alongside other people and helping them by building a relationship, and helping them through mentoring and becoming father figures or just friends.”

Hope City is a nondenominational Christian church. It has a congregation of approximately 100, and meets weekly for services at the Emagine Theatre on 23 Mile Road in Macomb Township.

The public is welcome to attend and donate to the backpack project at the church’s one-year anniversary celebration, which will also feature food and games for kids. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 20.