Stella is genuinely grateful for her more than two-decade association with Dallas Metro—first as a parent whose children benefitted from the Dallas Metro Kidz programs and then as a dedicated volunteer for the organization.

“My family and I have been involved with Dallas Metro for over 20 years,” declares Stella, her voice laced with pride. “I had a son and a daughter who were a part of Dallas Metro years ago. My kids are grown and married, but I saw them grow up with the programs of Dallas Metro.

“My son and daughter would go to Metro’s summer camp and they would always ask me to volunteer at the camp, but I kept saying no. Then, one day after my kids and grown up and left home, I decided to volunteer at one of the summer camps. I loved volunteering at the camp so much! However, I cried, too, because I wished I had volunteered at summer camp when my kids were there. I wished we had shared that experience together.

“Now I volunteer at Dallas Metro summer camp every year. One of my camp jobs is to set up the Snack Shack with Gatorade and snacks for the kids. I also work in the cafeteria and help pass out the plates of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“I also volunteer at Dallas Metro on Saturdays. We would go to apartments and knock on the doors, letting the parents and the kids know that the Dallas Metro Kidz is there and available to them. We do Bible studies for the kids, play games with them and pass out treats.

“My job is to knock on doors and make sure everyone gets the flyers telling about the next time that Dallas Metro will be at the apartments.”

Stella is quick to note that what she gives to Dallas Metro comes back to her tenfold.

“For me, volunteering with Dallas Metro really keeps me close to a Christian family. I have to be close to people who are close to God. When I was growing up, as a teenager I was drinking, smoking and I didn’t have good friends around me. My friends were not church people. When the Dallas Metro volunteers would knock on my apartment in South Dallas, I would tell them I was a Catholic and I didn’t want anything to do with them.

“Then one day we were in need of some groceries and I decided to go to the Dallas Metro truck and see what it was all about. I saw my oldest daughter and my son at the program. I said, “What are you doing here?” They had been sneaking out of the apartment and going to the programs for some time. I just didn’t know they were going. Anyway, I saw the program and I liked it. I saw what they were teaching and the games they were playing.

“That day the adults got in a circle for prayer, and then the groceries were going to be passed out. There was a lady there named Judy from Dallas Metro and she told us if we needed prayers to let her know. She went around to every person in the circle and I was waiting for her to come to me. She prayed over each person and anointed them with oil. I was thinking of what I needed to pray for in addition to the groceries.”

Then things took a fateful turn for Stella.

“When Judy came to me in the circle, I told her what I needed prayers for—and she told me that I needed to pray and that I needed to open up my Bible and pray. I was offended, because she had prayed over the other people, but she told me that I needed to pray. I went away offended, but I thought about it for a couple of days. Then I opened up my Bible.

“That meeting with Dallas Metro and Judy was a blessing in disguise. It taught me to pray. It taught me to read the Bible.”

Overcome with emotion, Stella’s voice cracks.

“I have now grown in faith—all because of Dallas Metro. This is my family. They know my background. They know the things I’ve been through. And they love me unconditionally.

“I lost my mom and my dad. Pastor Clay became my father, Barbara became my mom and Dallas Metro became my family. They keep me close to Christian people. I pray every morning. I read my Bible all the time. I go to church. And I volunteer at Dallas Metro as much as I can.

“Because of Dallas Metro, I have been able to tell a lot of people about God and the Bible. A lot of them have heard what I said and started changing their worldly ways. I would have never known how to speak to someone or explain a scripture to them had I never read the Bible. Now I can tell people stories about Mary, Jonah, Eli, Job and Joseph. Dallas Metro did that for me.”

Stella smiles.

“I have a lot of good Dallas Metro memories.”