How Ciudad Nueva’s programs empower families and create partnerships with the community.
Our desire at Ciudad Nueva is to advance God’s Kingdom in this world. We long to see God’s Kingdom values, such as justice, peace, and abundance at work in our community.
Our desire is to be an extension of God’s love and transforming power towards our neighbors. All of us are fearfully and wonderfully made and are bearers of the image of God. We want every program we design and every relationship that we invest in to point our neighbors and ourselves back toward these simple truths. God loves us and desires good things for us. And he commands us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
This is the heart of empowerment—a word we hear bounced around a lot in our line of work. As Christians, our view of empowerment is informed by our belief in the value God places on each individual, and our goal is to help each individual find God’s love and a sense of purpose in His world.
More Than Just a Fish
What does this look like in practice? It is actually easy to craft a nice sounding philosophy of empowerment. The true value and all the hard work happens when we actually give practical application to our ideas.
I’m sure you have heard the maxim “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” While there is truth to this, we believe that programs that are rooted in God’s kind of love and empowerment have more to offer than simply sustenance.
Some of the ways we build this kind of empowerment into our programs include:
- We facilitate ways for our neighbors to use their gifts and their abilities to make our neighborhood and even the world a better place for us all.
- We design programs that allow our neighbors, including the youth and children, to grow more confident in their abilities and practical skills.
- Rather than give hand-outs, we help people earn what they are seeking so that they have the pride and satisfaction of having achieved it themselves.
Rather than looking just to fill a need or provide a service, we approach our programs as an avenue for loving our neighbors while protecting their dignity and allowing them to give as well.
Take a Peek Inside Ciudad Nueva’s Christmas Store
One of our favorite programs, and an excellent example of this kind of empowerment at work, is our annual Christmas Store.
The Christmas Store allows parents to purchase nice gifts for their families at affordable prices. All of the items in the store are donated and marked down 50-80% off the retail price. Each family is allowed one entry into the store to purchase with guidelines on the amount that can be spent based on how much stock we have available. We try to provide a great experience for all our families, and wouldn’t want to run out of stock early!
Parents have the option to have their gifts wrapped at the store. The festive atmosphere is heightened with snacks for parents and children to enjoy. The kids have a special room to play in while they wait for their parents to finish their shopping.
This program is based on other successful programs around the country. It allows kids be blessed at Christmas, but also preserves the parents’ position as provider and keeps their dignity in the process.
A Quick Tour of Some Other Great Programs
- Launch Pad – In our elementary school program, students can earn 10-15 Launch Pad bucks a day. When the banker comes to visit, they learn banking skills and save up for items they want to buy from the Launch Pad store.
- Wyldlife – Middle school students can also use their “bucks ‘at our youth store, but they also earn their own way to camp by saving up their “bucks” and by performing community service hours.
- Volunteerism – Middle school and high school students have opportunities to help younger students through homework help, art programs, and other volunteer opportunities.
For the most part, people want to help themselves and provide for their families. Sometimes circumstances and even systemic barriers prevent them from providing in the way that they want or need to.
Handouts strip people of their dignity and prevent people from using their own God-given abilities to solve their own problems. Handouts deny a person’s innate desire to provide for themselves.
Programs like the Christmas Store give families the opportunity to provide without feeling like they are receiving charity. They choose their own gifts and use their own money.
It is our desire to create a means by which people can earn what they are seeking when economic and systemic barriers prevent them from doing so.
We know we won’t see the true fulfillment God’s Kingdom until we are in heaven, but as long as we are on earth, we believe it is our calling to let His Kingdom come and His will be done through us as individuals and as a community.
Want to know more about Ciudad Nueva and our programs? Check out our blog and stay tuned for our next post with stories from kids in our Launch Pad program and how they have opportunities to earn and share.