Mapa

Pastor Jon Mapa president of the Gothenburg/Brady Ministerial Association, offers a hand.

EDITORS NOTE: The Gothenburg United Fund annual campaign is underway, and for the next few weeks, we will be profiling local agencies those funds help support. This is the fourth in a series.

When people are in crisis or in need, often one of the first places they turn for help is a church. The pastors and lay leaders of the Gothenburg and Brady churches united years ago to form the Gothenburg/Brady Ministerial Association primarily as a means to help meet those needs.

Jon Mapa, pastor of American Lutheran Church, is the current president of the Ministerial Association. He said the association strives to provide assistance for area residents in need of utilities, rent, food, clothing, medical care and other needs for people in a crisis or emergency situation. Money received from the Gothenburg United Fund and other donations goes toward meeting those needs.

"We can also help with transportation needs for medical appointments and to get to work if needed," said Mapa. "We also offer assistance to those just passing through who may need a helping hand."

While the Ministerial Association provides funds for some of these needs, they also work closely with other agencies that can provide help in specific areas.

As well as providing emergency assistance, the association serves other areas of the community. The pastors and leaders rotate as chaplains at the hospital, and conduct weekly Sunday worship services at Stone Hearth Estates and Hilltop Estates. They also lead a Bible study each week at Hilltop Estates.

Mapa said it is nice to belong to a group who share common interests and issues. "I really appreciate that we support one another as colleagues in ministry, and work together to support our community through local events," said Mapa.

If you are in need of emergency assistance, or know someone who is, contact any local church pastor.

Building bonds between generations

Since its introduction into the Gothenburg Public School system in 2001, the TeamMates program has touched the lives of hundreds of students. The first year of the mentoring program matched seven students and adults. This year there are 48.

Lynnette Stevens has served as the coordinator for the Gothenburg TeamMates program for five years. She said the mentor meets with the mentee weekly for one hour at the school. The goal of the program is to build encouraging relationships that help students be successful in school.

In Gothenburg, students can enter the TeamMates program when they enter sixth grade. Stevens said the hope is that a good match will be made, and the same mentor will remain with that mentee through graduation.

Typically the mentor meets the student at the school for lunch, with the mentor lunches paid for by TeamMates. The program also plans five fun events each year outside of school, including an annual trip to the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers spring football game.

Money received from the Gothenburg United Fund, and other donations they receive throughout the year, are used by the Gothenburg TeamMates program to pay for these events.

"All of the funds for our program are raised locally. We have a tremendous amount of community support," said Stevens.

To learn more about the Gothenburg TeamMates program, logon to teammates.org, or email Stevens at stevens.lynnette@gmail.org.

Meals and more are served up at

the Gothenburg Senior Center

The Gothenburg Senior Center is a non-profit organization that provides services, information and resources to seniors in our community. The center provides home-delivered meals, which are vitally important for those wishing to stay in their own homes and maintain their independence.

It also serves as a daily gathering place for enjoying a home cooked meal and socialization. A wide variety of activities are offered at the center, designed to keep seniors active both physically and mentally.

The senior center provides noon meals Monday through Friday for a suggested donation of $5 for those over 60 and $6.50 for anyone under 60. Seniors are also encouraged to take advantage of the handi-bus, which provides rides around town from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. A donation of $1.50 one way or $3 round trip is suggested. Rides to the center for lunch are free.

Funding for the programs and meals at the senior center comes from private donations, fundraisers, the Gothenburg United Fund, West Central Nebraska Area Agency on Aging and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"We budget $36,000 per year in fundraising," said Gothenburg Senior Center Director Angela Barkmeier. "Some of that comes from our garage sales, from pretzel sales and the Sunday dinners."

Along with the daily meals, folks gather at the center at 410 20th Street, for games of pool and bridge and two Bible study groups meet at the center each week. Barkmeier said someone who walks in the front door may think there is no one there, because everyone is in the back participating in something.

Anyone is invited to join them for lunch or ride the handi-bus. Reservations for both can be made by calling 537-7465.

Contact Ellen Mortensen at ellen@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.536.6499