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Wondering how to give back to the Canyon Lake community this holiday season?

In addition to area churches and other philanthropic groups, these charities and non-profits in Canyon Lake and New Braunfels work to provide critical services to families-in-need:

Community Resource and Recreation Center (CRRC) of Canyon Lake

Serves the residents of Canyon Lake by providing vital social service resources like a food pantry as well as life-enriching recreational and educational opportunities.

CRRC, 1917 FM 2673 in Canyon Lake, helps local residents and families who are going through crisis with food from its emergency food pantry. The non-profit also provides crisis financial assistance.

For example, the CRRC’s Community Program hosts day trips, movie day, congregate meals, and the opportunity to work in the Community Garden. They are always open to new ideas and new activities.

Community Program includes the Senior Program, which meets every Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Community Center.

Crisis Assistance

According to CRRC’s website, Comal County is the 11th fastest-growing county in Texas, and that doesn’t mean just affluent families are finding Canyon Lake to be a great place to live.

Since 2006, the number of individuals seeking food assistance has tracked with the growth of Comal County and CISD.

“When we expand their numbers, as well as our own at our average growth rate, we can see that in just a few years, we may be feeding more than 15,000 people each year. More space is needed to store the food needed by these individuals and families.”

Texas ranks in the bottom 12 in the country for taking care of our residents who are food insecure.

In Comal County, 49 percent are below the threshold of the 165 percent of poverty level. This includes children in Canyon Lake. Last year, Startzville Elementary had 63% of its students qualify for free or reduced meals.

More than 60 percent of local CISD students are on free or reduced meals.

Numbers of lower income households continue to grow, as well as the disabled and seniors on fixed incomes, and they continue to need food assistance.

New building fund

It takes space to provide community services — and CRRC outgrew its building a long time ago. CRRC received a $250,000 matching grant for a new facility from The McKenna Foundation of New Braunfels in 2014, and the community soon matched this. However, CRRC needs another $250,000 before it can break ground and build a new facility.

Here’s why new space is vital:

  • Families and individuals in crisis need to have more privacy for discussing needs and problems. Currently, there is no space available to create a confidential space for conversations. Counseling space is needed to discuss budgeting and family issues.
  • CRRC plans to create classrooms to provide lessons on budgeting, diet and nutrition, and job searching and applying.
  • Space is desperately needed to accommodate demands on the Emergency Food Pantry and other services and programs.
  • CRRC runs two other programs out of its main office building in Canyon Lake, Meals on Wheels (MOW) and a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) loan program. Containers for MOW distribution take up space also needed for the food pantry.

Family Life Center New Braunfels

Family Life Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, faith-based organization located at  Tree of Life Church, 5513 I-35S, works closely with CRRC to support under-resourced families in Comal County.

It connects temporarily under-resourced and/or unemployed Comal County residents to a vast network of churches, charities, agencies, service organizations and corporate sponsors that provide programs that help residents become self-sufficient, productive members of the community.

“We look at families as a whole, at everything that’s going on in their lives,” says Kay Scott, executive director. “Ninety-nine percent of the time families aren’t facing something that just started overnight. There’s a root problem. We get to the root and find out what’s going on. Then we can go ahead and address the bigger picture. When you’re in crisis you don’t always think straight because you’re in panic mode.

“Like CRRC we are lifelines to these folks. We support them both emotionally and financially then send them back to the churches that referred them for spiritual support.”

Supports 2,000 Children

Over Christmas, Family Life Center anticipates their services will help support 2,000 children in Comal County. Family Life’s earmarked approximately $60 per child — or $120,000 just for Christmas.

In addition to working closely with groups like CRRC and area churches, Family Life Center partners with Salvation Army and Blue Santa, which provides gifts for kids in need.

In 2016, the group paid over $131,000 in rent, not including other services like utilities, food, insurance and GED-testing.

“We’re a clearing house and a referral center,” says Kay Scott, executive director of the Family Life Center. “We’re the first step. We assess needs to make sure requests for support are legitimate, then provide the assistance they need. We partner with other agencies and many churches in the community. If someone knocks on their doors, they send them to us.”

Like others working in area charities, she says Comal County is home to much more than beautiful scenery, a vibrant musical culture, tourist hotspots and new developments.

“It all depends on how far out of your own sphere of influence that you travel through,” she says. “People don’t always see the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Back into the community

One hundred percent of all donations to Family Life Center go straight back into the community to help families pay rent, utilities and buy food.

Family Life Center also pays for area residents to obtain their GEDs, which requires them to complete five tests at a cost of $25 each. If a client can’t afford to buy gas for a job interview — or the insurance needed for vehicles — Family Life Center steps in.

“We try to work ways where we can help those families so they can be able to provide for themselves,” Scott says. “Anyone who gives to us can rest assured that the money is going where it’s supposed to.”

She says members of the community who’d like to support Family Life Center can get as involved as they’d like in holiday gift-giving or simply sign up to volunteer. Some people write checks — others want to involve their children by shopping for and delivering Christmas presents.

“I have to say that this community is a very giving community, and they have always been right there to help us. It’s a very giving community, and I have to thank folks for stepping up in assisting and helping — and always being there for the families that they help.”

Family Life handles all applications for Christmas gifts — including last-minute appeals for help. Proof of residency, income and names of children and school records are required.

Communities in Schools South Central Texas

Give time — Communities in Schools needs mentors who can commit to meeting with a child for 30 minutes each week.

“You don’t need to know science or math. You can give students accolades, or pats on the back, to help them be successful in school,” says David Ricker, director of Operations & Community Partnerships.

Communities In Schools works closely with schools, communities and families to provide students with a caring network of support that keeps them in school and helps them succeed in life. In Comal and Guadalupe Counties, CIS program serves more than 24,000 students each year in New Braunfels, Comal, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City, and Marion independent school districts.

Cash donations are welcome as well.

Upbring New Life

Upbring New Life Children’s Center, 650 Scarbourough, Canyon Lake, is a residential treatment center for severely troubled girls ages 11 to 17.  Almost all of the girls who arrive at New Life’s tranquil country setting are coming directly from foster homes, with behaviors too intense and disruptive for their foster parents to handle. Many have had several foster care placements before Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) places them at New Life.

Here are some ways to support Upbring:

Financial Gifts
Tax-deductible financial gift to Upbring New Life will help provide the basic necessities for each girl, as well as recreational opportunities, and social outings.

New Household Items for Girls’ Rooms and Life Skills Classes
Bed-in-a-bag (Twin)
Sheet Sets (Twin)
Colored Pencils and Markers
Coloring Books Geared to Teens and Adults
Art Supplies
Baking and Cooking Supplies

Volunteer Opportunities
Individuals and families are to help with leading crafts and activities. For more information, contact Lisa Brown, Director of Volunteer Services at (830)964-4390

(Editor’s Note: Would you like us to include your charity’s needs this holiday season? Email stephanie@mycanyonlake.com and we’ll add you to this story!)

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