I want to share with you my vision for 2019. But first, I have a confession...
Last year totally wrecked me.
Specifically, our time on the Florida Panhandle moved me. It challenged me. It broke me. And it made me more determined than ever to make sure Mercy Chefs fulfills its mission to "feed body and soul."
Since I founded Mercy Chefs nearly 13 years ago, I have had an up-and-close look at some of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history. I've seen hurricanes devastate communities. I've witnessed the ravages of uncontrolled fires tearing through entire neighborhoods. I've stood in the path of mile-wide tornadoes that literally destroyed every home and building in its path. I've seen how a rapidly rising river can devastate an entire town overnight.
Yet somehow, seeing the enormity of the need on the Florida Panhandle day after day impacted my heart -- and my mind -- at a different level. It's difficult to put into words. On one hand, I was privileged and honored that the Lord was using Mercy Chefs in such profound ways -- this amazing feeling of knowing that God has you in just the right place at just the right time doing just the right thing.
At the same time, I struggled because I desperately wanted to DO MORE! If we had the resources, we could have TRIPLED or QUADRUPLED our impact. But more than that, because Mercy Chefs is often the first to arrive at the scene of a disaster and we fill in the gaps as other groups leave, our teams form a special bond with the communities we serve that extends far beyond our initial deployment. In Florida, for example, local leaders specifically requested that Mercy Chefs return to the Panhandle and host their holiday season celebration.
+ + Vision 2019
The experiences of recent months have deeply challenged me. I can very honestly say that I'm more passionate now about Mercy Chefs' mission than at any time in our history. I have an even great sense of urgency to ensure that Mercy Chefs does all that we possibly can to feed people body and soul.
I also want to take advantage of every door of opportunity the Lord is opening to expand our outreach this year. And the doors are opening! For example:
*Helping Those Hardest Hit. We are more committed than ever to supporting communities hard hit by recent disasters. For example, this spring, we'll be back in Panama City for the entire month of March providing meals and support for clean-up and renovation teams coming to the area.
*Building In Communities. Early this year, we will complete our first community kitchen that will provide thousands of meals to struggling children and families while also serving as a center for training, equipping, back-to-work initiatives, and more. And we are designing everything so that the Mercy Chefs Community Kitchen can be a model that can be replicated across the country!
*Growing Strategic Partnerships. Mercy Chefs is developing strategic partnerships with churches and non-profits across the country that want to team with us on local, regional and national efforts. This fits perfectly with our vision of connecting people in need with local resources whenever possible.
*Operating At A Higher Level. For the first time in our history, we now have a home base of operations for this ministry that is transforming our staff's effectiveness while quickly becoming a vibrant and important center for meal-based relief efforts. Business and community leaders now are coming to Mercy Chefs to find out how to get engaged. Our new base will greatly increase our impact and effectiveness.
*Expanding For Disasters. Perhaps most importantly, I feel the urgent need to expand our disaster response capacity so we can have even greater impact when disaster strikes. Right now, we are working on a plan to add up to two mobile kitchens this year that also must be staffed, equipped, and stocked with supplies. The fact is, we could have reached three or four times the number of people during our disaster deployments last year if we had the resources. These new kitchens will help make that possible!
These opportunities are UNPRECEDENTED in our history. Based on the plans and outreaches we already have in place, it is quite possible that Mercy Chefs could DOUBLE or TRIPLE our impact in 2019!
+ + Our challenge...
But here's the challenge...
As the vision for Mercy Chefs is growing, we need our support base to grow as well.
Which is why I'm turning to you. Mercy Chefs is a lean organization. Everything we do is directly dependent on a relatively small group of faithful supporters. Without your ongoing partnership, we simply cannot grow to meet these incredible opportunities. Plus, without the help of friends like you, we will not be adequately prepared for the next natural disaster.
Specifically, to help launch this new year and these new efforts, we are looking for at least 500 friends to step forward this month in support of our VISION 2019 efforts.
So here's why I'm asking you to prayerfully consider...
Would you become a Mercy Chefs "VISION 2019" monthly partner so we can reach more people in 2019 and even double our impact in feeding body and soul? It takes just a few moments. Go here now to become a monthly partner:
If you can't make a monthly contribution at this time, please make your best possible one-time "VISION 2019" gift by going here.
+ + My gift to you
If you can help with a monthly gift of $20 or more, I'd like you to have our Mercy Chefs hot/cold travel mug as our way of saying thanks. This 15-ounce mug is durable and will keep your coffee hot or your iced tea cool. Most importantly, you'll be helping Mercy Chefs meet critical needs for hurting people each and every month!
Finally, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all you are doing to stand with Mercy Chefs as we feed body and soul. Together, we can expand our efforts to feed more and serve more in this new year!
Gary LeBlanc, Founder and President