Gainesville Daily Register

Local News

January 10, 2014

Missionaries, VISTO director serve as Lions Club speakers

Gainesville — The Gainesville Lion’s Club double downed Wednesday with two featured guest speakers during their regular hourly meeting which included Michelle Baldwin of Volunteers In Service To Others (VISTO) and Lions Club sponsored missionaries Jacob and Debbie Newman.

Michelle Baldwin, director of VISTO in Gainesville), spoke to the group of the VISTO “Pathways” program which was developed to assist women with children. The program consists of informal classes to teach and build life long skills so participants can reach goals they have set for themselves.

Those participating in the program on their way to self empowerment experience guidance and connection to the community through facilitators, path finders, Pathways Action Circles (PACS), life coaches and quarterly workshops.

The program is based on eight core values regarding relationships, self, work, education, spiritual, health, recreation and financial responsibilities.

According to Baldwin, the program primarily focuses on women and children for a reason.

“Women and children are the glue that holds families together,” she said. “We work to empower them with confidence in their own capabilities and to know that they have value despite what they have been led to believe over the course of psychological and physical abusive situations.”

 “There are four girls that are now working on their GED at North Central Texas College (NCTC),” she said. “Tuition for three of the girls are paid for by NCTC and VISTO is paying for one.”

 “Many of our participants are spiritually deprived also,” Baldwin said. “We think that spiritual classes are an important part of the program.”

“One young woman recently said that she was not sure that there is a God but she hoped that there is someone out there that loves her,” Baldwin continued.

 Baldwin also talked to the group about the key points of poverty which is defined as the extent to which an individual does without resources.

Many women and children in the program also have experienced poverty.

Poverty is not defined by nationality, boundaries, sex or race and can occur in all countries Baldwin explained.

“Generational poverty and situational poverty are different,”  Baldwin stated. “Generational poverty lasts over two generations or more.”

 She said that situational, economic or environmental poverty are temporary and brought about by specific events such as a death, divorce, flood or another catastrophic event.

The VISTO programs work to provide better choices and guidance for participants to empower them with their own self worth, importance and capabilities to overcome past debilitating experiences.

VISTO is actively supported each month through donations of Lions Club members collected at the first meeting of each month.

Also speaking at the recent meeting were Jacob and Debbie Newman, members of a group called Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

Jacob Newman, in his early 20s, was born in Gainesville and was inducted into the Gainesville Lions Club prior to his departure to Australia and Papua New Guinea.

He met his bride Debbie, an Australian medical missionary with YWAM, and the couple was married this past November.

With dangerous unrest occurring in New Guinea at this time, the Newmans are going to Orlando with YWAM to work as instructional leaders with possible mission trips to Africa and India.

“We are not sure what we will do or where we will go,” Jacob Newman said. “But we will rely on God to lead us and we are so thankful for our friends and family here in Gainesville.”

The YWAM program is entirely funded by donations and volunteer doctors and nurses on two week mission assignments.


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