The journey to a new headquarters for The Mentoring Alliance didn’t find its legs until leadership made the decision to just start walking and see where God would lead them.

Members of the organizations leadership team reflected on the journey during an open house for their new facility at the corner of Old Jacksonville Highway and South Broadway Avenue.

The organization had struggled to sell its old facility as operations shifted onto local school campuses, and the space no longer fit the group’s needs. But finding a buyer for the property that was a mix of office spaces, classrooms, gyms and outdoor areas that include a splash pad proved to be more difficult than anticipated.

Chair Ken Lackner said the board had spent more than two years telling God how to do God’s business, before realizing that if they were going to ask God to guide their footsteps, they needed to be willing to walk.

Lackner said that when they decided to give it up to God, things began to move quickly. They didn’t have a plan, a place or a way to pay, but trusted their faith would guide them.

Within five days of making that decision, the organization found the perfect location, the old Compass Bank building at 1909 S. Broadway Ave. With that, they had a place.

Within a month, President and CEO Kevin East came to the board with a proposal. Promise Academy, a small private Christian school serving the neighborhoods north of downtown Tyler needed a place to grow. And now they had a plan.

With two birds down, the board approached the Jasper family, one of the first families to support their mission, to ask if they’d consider being the first to help make that dream become a reality. Within just two months, Lackner said, The Mentoring Alliance had a plan, a place and a way to pay.

“We said, ‘If you’re going to do this, let it be so spectacular that it’s absolutely undeniable who gets the credit for the act done. You, not me,’” Lackner said. “Prayer answered.”

As they began the process of remodeling the Compass building, more pieces moved into place. Pastor Ricky Garner, who is also a board member, needed a space for his congregation.

“God had a different plan; he said I’ll bless two ministries,” Lackner said.

Now the old Boys and Girls Club facility was once again full, with the sound of children learning and playing, and The Mentoring Alliance was ready to launch the next era of its ministry.

Carrie-Ann Jasper-Yearty said that as their family’s business grew, it shared a parallel path with The Mentoring Alliance, which had become a key part of the family’s giving over the years.

As the company made major changes and built a new headquarters of its own, the family realized this was a blessing they could share.

“Our thought was, ‘Why should we as a for-profit have a better place to work, to come love and care for our people than (The Mentoring Alliance)?’” Jasper-Yearty said.

That desire to see the ministry move from its old, windowless building into a new, modern workplace where it could really show the community its work was part of the decision to help spearhead the fundraising. Just 19 donors were responsible for 100% of the money needed to purchase and renovate the new headquarters.

Jasper-Yearty said she would encourage everyone to find a way to invest in The Mentoring Alliance, not just monetarily but as mentors.

East said the move was years in the making, but it was still amazing to see this new space that will be used to launch the ministry into the future.

He said this new facility, full of natural light and warm workplaces, is an example of the way God smiles.

The organization will use its new centralized location not only to continue to serve the community, but to look toward expansion.

The Boys and Girls Club will serve more than 1,450 students at 21 campuses in Tyler, Whitehouse and Bullard this school year. Rose City Summer Camps will expand to serve 1,000 students by adding two middle school locations in Tyler next summer, and Gospel Village has set a goal to bring in 50 more mentors.

More than that though, the organization is setting an ambitious goal to expand to a new community by fall 2022.

“We believe that every child is created in the image of God and has immense value,” East said.

He said each and every child is made for a lifetime of purpose and is worth fighting for.

For more information, visit TheMentor ingAlliance.com.

Cory is a multimedia journalist and member of the Education Writers Association, Criminal Justice Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. He has appeared on Crime Watch Daily and Grave Mysteries on Investigation Discovery.

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