Giving a Child a Smile

Posted: March 8, 2016

“I grew up poor,” UGM-TC volunteer Genny reflects. “I was poor most of my life. We didn’t have much to eat – probably four of us had malnutrition growing up.”

But these aren’t the only similarities that Genny shares with many Mission residents and guests. There’s one more thing – like them, she knows the perils of life without a place to call home all too well.

“Then, I became a single mom,” she continues. “So, I didn’t have the money to buy presents or birthday stuff. I lived in a tent with two of my children for a couple of months then it got to be close to winter time and my family let us come live with them.”

Some years after Genny reestablished herself and her family, she decided she wanted to volunteer. Fittingly, she landed here at Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County.

“I’d been where a lot of these people are. I know what it’s like to be poor, not to be able to do things for your children.”

Genny’s unyielding memory of homelessness and struggle with her daughters has become the driving force of her work with children at the Mission. Each month, she and her husband sponsor a birthday party with cake, ice cream and crafts. True to birthday party tradition, Genny provides each child with a birthday card enveloping a special surprise gift card – a luxury many families have been unable to provide on their own.

“You get the moms who come up and give you a hug and kids come up too but some of the moms will be in tears thanking you for doing this for their children because they can’t and they know how heartbreaking that can be,” Genny says.

Baring indisputable selflessness, her involvement with the Mission doesn’t end at children’s birthday parties. Every year, Genny and her family donate school uniforms and Christmas presents.

“Once you get here and see all the stuff that they do for everybody here and how amazing he place is, you just want to keep doing more, you know?” Genny says. “It’s just an awesome place.”

In return for her amazing deeds, Genny says she always gets a case of the feel goods.

“It makes you feel great knowing that you’re helping, doing something to try and make their lives a little bit better, you know, a little easier.”

Volunteers like Genny are the foundation of Union Gospel Mission of Tarrant County. Interested in volunteering? Please browse our volunteer opportunities and complete a volunteer application. For more information, call 817.338.8402 or email

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”   

1 Peter 4:10

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