Houston Mormon deaf branch finds way to serve

By Ramona Siddoway

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 29 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Members of the Fallbrook Deaf Branch sign "I love you" at the end of the service project.

Ramona Siddoway

HOUSTON — Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from several wards in Houston combined efforts to prepare and donate clothing to Houston’s Career and Recovery Resources, or CRR, on Oct. 15. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the LDS Church’s welfare program President Henry B. Eyring encouraged members worldwide to choose one day to give service in their respective communities.

Spearheaded by the Fallbrook Deaf Branch and joined by the Kleinwood, Memorial Springs and Champions wards, more than 2,500 items of interview-ready clothing were carried in on hangers and in wardrobe-size boxes. Tony Lynch, CRR’s employment specialist for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Division, was overwhelmed by the amount of clothing that was brought through the doors of CRR.

“CRR helps anyone who has a barrier to gaining employment,” Lynch said. “These barriers could be that they are deaf or hard of hearing, have an emotional problem, a recovering addict; any barrier really. We provide clothing for job interviews, job-readiness training, computer literacy training, etc. This clothing is really going to help our clients.”

The Fallbrook Branch chose CRR, a United Way organization, in part because many of its members have used and benefited from the assistance of CRR.

“I go to CRR three or four times a week,” said Karen Hancock, a hard-of-hearing woman who has been a member of the Fallbrook Deaf Branch for 15 years. “I thought it was a wonderful idea when our branch decided to serve this organization. (CRR) really needs help down there.”

And how does she feel about the idea of a day of service?

“It shows how we all can serve different kinds of people, including the deaf and hard-of-hearing.”

The LDS Church's welfare program was organized in 1936 during the Great Depression. Its purpose is to help people not only in temporarily difficult circumstances but also to promote self-reliance as a way of life.

Mormon leaders are hoping the day of service will inspire people to get more involved in their communities and to go beyond just the one day of service. They hope it will become a life-long commitment.

Ramona Siddoway is a freelance writer who has published articles in Belgium, Angola and the United States. She currently resides with her husband in Houston. She blogs at ramonasiddoway.wordpress.com

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