Since 2012, the Lantana-based Mission Moms organization has been helping area families facing challenging times.
Mission Moms was created to teach children the importance of giving, serving within their communities and acting on the kindness within their hearts. Each mission is personal, for a specific cause, with a unique focus– helping extraordinary people.
Mission Moms began with the vision of one mother, Kathryn Flores, to teach her own boys to be giving; after watching their excessive excitement about toys that would be available that Christmas. That simple act has grown to multiple missions throughout the year to show love and support to families dealing with challenging times.
“We have always tried to lead them along the path of helping others, but we believe it takes action to make a lifelong impact,” Flores said. “We believe it is our obligation to groom [our] two boys into men that will lead great families and make a difference in the lives of others. Our community and greater Denton County area were hungry to help and continue to rally and rise.”
Some of the annual missions have included Blessing of the Backpacks, Thanksgiving Blessings, Christmas Kindness and Operation Graduation. However, one ‘mission’ has become a weekly outreach to a specific group of children attending Denton ISD schools … Homework Zone.
“The vision of Mission Moms is to teach our children to serve the whole community and find the kindness in their hearts,” Flores said. “We continue this in Homework Zone, because every kid is born with goodness and kindness. It’s like a muscle. You just have to keep working at it to become stronger. The more you show them love and grace the more they will mimic that.”
The program meets Wednesdays throughout the school year and one Wednesday a month during the summer (Summer Zone) at Shiloh Church. Championed by Flores, retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Johnnie Yellock, Adkins Elementary Watch Dog Dads and members of Harpool Middle School staff, the Homework Zone group provides homework assistance and mentors students from the Rocky Point mobile home community in Flower Mound.
“It’s a working community,” Flores said. “The parents work hard, many at multiple jobs, to provide for their families. It just isn’t easy for everyone.”
The weekly 40-45 students attend Adkins Elementary, W.S. Ryan Elementary and Harpool Middle Schools.
“These kids are my extended family,” Flores said. “I often look at them as my own. I cry with them and laugh with them because I see them so often over the course of many years.”
This will be the fourth school year for Homework Zone and the third in partnership with Yellock, a wounded veteran who lives in Lantana.
“He is a very influential part of our mentoring sessions, both during the school year and in the summer,” Flores said. “He’s the fun, entertaining one; I’m the constant.
“From his military training and trials, he provides interesting feedback and mentoring that I can’t; and, he’s significantly younger. He’s a huge part of their ongoing emotional and educational support system, because they simply adore him.”
For Yellock, who travels the country sharing his testimony, his spare time focuses on supporting children and fellow veterans. Homework Zone fits his personal “missions” perfectly and is a great partnership with Mission Moms.
“We read character-building books with them and help with any homework,” he said. “Since it’s after school, it can get a little rowdy, so we implement a little bit of discipline; a little bit of life coaching and a whole lot of laughs. If things get out of hand, if they ever get beyond the scope of Kathryn’s control, it’s understood that I jump in to support. They’ve known me a couple years now and know my military history … they have been awesome part of my journey as well.”
The group is grateful to Shiloh Church in Flower Mound for donating a room in which to meet and when weather permits, a grassy, shaded outdoor area for fun and fellowship.
Two years ago, a gate was erected, between the church and Rocky Point, allowing students to go directly from the Homework Zone to their homes. Previously, Flores and Yellock cautiously walked children around the corner by the gas station and Cristina’s Fine Mexican Restaurant on Shiloh Road to their homes; a safety concern for the team.
“Just being an adult friend to them is a key to their life,” Yellock said. “Most of the adults they encounter in the school day are teachers. They see us as people they can trust and confide in. They open up on many personal topics. I’ve seen a lot of growth these two years.”
Mission Moms furnishes snacks to the students in Homework Zone “to fill their bellies, before we fill their brains,” Flores said. From helping just a few kids at E.P. Rayzor in 2011, Mission Moms has grown to assist 29 schools with more than 400 volunteers in various missions throughout the year. Most of the schools supported are in the Denton ISD, a few in the Lewisville ISD and one in the Northwest ISD. Mission Moms leans on a longstanding partnership with Communities in Schools of North Texas.
“When I met Kathryn, she plugged me into Adkins Elementary and it was impossible to walk away from the opportunity and the children, after the welcome and introduction I had with these kids a couple of years ago,” Yellock said. “I will go to Adkins (and any other school) and speak about service, leadership, mentoring, trials and tribulations, but this unique ‘mission’ gives me the chance to make a big impact on a smaller scale with incredible individuals.”
Before the 2017-18 Homework Zone begins in September, Mission Moms will hold the 6th annual Blessing of the Backpacks on Wednesday, Aug. 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Shiloh Church, 6500 Cross Timbers Road in Flower Mound.
Anyone wanting to donate items can do so at: Jim Bridges State Farm, 2648 FM 407, Ste. 105 in Bartonville Town Center, RE/MAX Elite, 3600 FM 407, Ste. 185, in Lantana Town Center, American Pet Spa, 8827 Highway 377 S. in Argyle or through: www.missionmoms.org.