Linda Ballard

Linda Ballard

All of us at one time or other has been in the position of needing to reach out for help, whether it is through a loss of job, home or family. Circumstances can be overwhelming, especially for the bread-winners of the home.

This week First Baptist Church of Kilgore has begun a new  program called A Family Promise to help those who need a helping hand up. Excitement reigns and the reports are coming in very favorable from the trained volunteers for program.

Formerly known as Longview Interfaith Hospitality Network, the new name change to A Family Promise  took place earlier this year and soon will be celebrating their 15th year.

The program is designed to help families (couples, single mothers or fathers, grandparents, guardians) with at least one child under the age of 17. The families undergo a 30-day personalized, goal-directed program to help children and families become financially independent in a new home.  Help with jobs, life skills, parenting and money management are provided for the family. It allows them to save half of their income to get back on their feet.  

“It is part of a national program or network,” said Doris Ramaly, director of the Longview Day Facility.  The churches offer to provide for families from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m. with warm meals, a place to sleep, clean linens and to see to their needs through the evening. Then they are transferred to the Day Facility for jobs, training and other sources. It is a hand-up and not a hand-out. All families receive a backup check for safety and a trained volunteer is with them at the church in case a problem arises.”

“We train our volunteers to the sensitivity and needs of those who are facing difficult times,” she said. “We try not to use the word ‘homeless’ and look at them as guests of the network.  And we try to bring a dignity to their situation.”

“Our church has the families one full week of the month from Sunday to Sunday,” said Sarah Cole, program coordinator at First Baptist of Kilgore.  Thirty volunteers have been trained and each classroom helps with each need of a family. The volunteers have been wonderful. It is really good for all of us and it gives us a peace of mind knowing we can be a helping hand up.”

OHH, THE LUCKY ONES that have just returned from a trip to Jamaica. Kelly and David Watson spent seven luxurious evenings at Sandals Resort - Roy Plantation last week.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it was, it was so fantastic,” said Kelly. “We went to scuba dive and that we did twice a day! Don and Jana Hedrick had been after us for  a long time to join them and we are so glad we did. Don has been diving for 40 years and this  made Don and Jana’s sixteenth trip to the area.  The trip was just more than we could imagine !”

Kelly and David received scuba certification in Tyler last fall and since have been  counting the days to put it to use in the Caribbean.  The highlight of the trip was paying to go on a private dive to a shipwreck.  

“The ship had been underwater for over 60 years,” continued Kelly. “The coral growing out of it was definitely a wow and there are so many beautiful fish. We saw a sting ray and an eel. David first thought the eel was a snake and he got away from it in a hurry,” she laughed. “I have beautiful pictures to show.”

David, who was in the background prompting her for details of this trip wanted her to be sure and speak about the food. Breakfast at the resort was huge and filled with lots  fruit and bacon for Kelly’s delight. But, while there they also ate at a French restaurant, a Japanese restaurant and a seafood restaurant.   

“The people are so friendly,” continued Kelly. “And you could tell by their smiles, it was genuine.”

So, what did Jana do if everybody else was diving? Jana relaxed. That’s what she plans on and makes the trip perfect for her – to just relax. Isn’t that what a vacation is really for, anyway?

“This was our first inclusive trip and won’t be our last,” said Kelly. “I can’t wait to go back!”

MR. STROUD’S HISTORY CLASS PODCAST can be located through a Google search under that exact title for the many who have been asking how to locate it.  David Stroud taught history for 39 years at Kilgore College and took the classes to the podcast.  His podcast has now been played 10,550 times with the class on Gettysburg being the most popular with 710 listeners. On Memorial Day the podcast was listened to 143 times.  The podcast can easily be found with the title instead of  his whole name.

May His Love and Laughter fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. We may be reached at 903-984-2593 or


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