It was spring break and Kathryn Flores and her family were skiing when the world started changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On another mountain at the same time, Dr. Jamie Wilson and his family were also hitting the slopes.
They didn’t know the extent or length of the challenges at the time. But the longtime area resident who founded the non-profit Mission Moms organization and superintendent of the Denton Independent School District knew they had to team up to do something for the underserved students who depend heavily on the state-assisted food program to provide twice daily meals.
With school closed, restaurants closed or limited and grocery shelves bare, this would be an obstacle the duo had never faced.
The longtime friends and community advocates combined efforts for Mission Moms Mobile Meals, providing much-needed grocery assistance to thousands of deserving children for 25 consecutive weeks.
Wilson mobilized district administrators to help while Flores focused on fundraising and donations. The coordination paid off significantly and provided teachers and administrators the opportunity to check in on children while spreading smiles of hope.
“That man (Dr. Wilson) is a gift,” Flores said. “He worked alongside me every single week, from cold rain to delirious sweat to hilarious dog chases delivering thousands and thousands of meals while visiting his students on their turf. It’s a beautiful thing to be led by someone of a like-minded soul for serving.”
Mission Moms has been serving Denton, Argyle, Lewisville and Northwest ISD students for nearly 10 years during school breaks, yet never at this length.
“When this hit we were just into spring break week and quite honestly wasn’t paying attention to the news,” Flores said. “On a mountain I spoke to Dr. Wilson and he stated ‘we’re about to shut down for a bit. What do we need to do to help your Mission Moms kiddos.’ I immediately said ‘we’ve got to go to them, put me in, Coach!’
“My ministry has always been feet-on-the-street. I believe in meeting people where they are comfortable and serving with grit and grace. To be entrusted by the district to serve these incredible kids facing unimaginable challenges will be forever my passion. We’re all broken souls. If all things are equal, it’s really just about choosing to do better with the time we are given and to me, that’s helping kids.”
Through their annual Spring Break Blessings mission, Mission Moms delivered hundreds of bags of groceries with the help of CoServ and donations from Double Oak Mayor Mike Donnelly on March 7. By the time Flores returned from her family vacation, all the logistics were in place to begin weekend Mobile Meal deliveries on March 16. In addition, the organization assisted in delivering weekday district-provided breakfasts and lunches through the end of May.
“We were a well-oiled collaborative machine,” she said. “Weekdays we supplement the district in service, weekends the district steps in to help Mission Moms.”
Often met with push-backs or “shouldn’t” about going door-to-door during a pandemic, Flores was advised to stay home with her own children and be safe.
“These are my kids too!” she said. “I’ve assured them for nearly 10 years that we’ll be there if they need us. I’m certainly not going to take one inch backwards when my babies need me.”
And her trusted team followed. Practicing safe distance and food and grocery delivery service protocols, weekly drop-offs were set on the porches of families in need.
“It was a great experience for all of us who just can’t sit still and watch,” Flores said. “We kept saying the timeline was unknown but never wavered from serving. The right people at the right time serving deserving, incredible families in our own backyard. It’s the greatest use of a time we were all forced to step away from what is normal and reach within ourselves for so much more.
“We were blessed to have space provided day one at Lantana Community Church as a donation site until we outgrew it and moved to the Harpool Middle School gym just down the road. Week one I think we served about five families and for over four months we’ve been serving more than 2,000 of our most vulnerable in 11 Denton County communities.”
Not only did Dr. Wilson and Harpool principal Jeff Smith agree to keep the lights and air conditioning on for Mission Moms, both leaders followed the servant’s heart lead and assisted Mission Moms’ efforts every week.
Flores thanked two specific businesses and longtime friends providing weekly warm, home cooked meals – Marty Bryan of Marty Bs and Jason and Hillary Roberts of Circle R Ranch who committed to cooking and serving even while their businesses were struggling due to the pandemic.
In addition to being a community activist and passionate leader, Flores has a fierce love for sports, competition and motivating an athlete for more so she simultaneously launched “Beyond the Game” where she enjoys energizing local teams by engaging together off the court, off the field and beyond the game they love to serve others.
“Teaching our own kids to serve is kind of like the muscle-memory of an athlete,” she said. “The more you do it, the better you will be. Reps matter.”
To date, Guyer High School girls and boys soccer, girls volleyball, boys and girls basketball, baseball and football teams have stepped in to move donations, assemble groceries and even porch pick-up of grocery donations.
It quickly became a cross-town “rivalry” when the Marcus High School and Guyer High School football teams challenged each other on weekly donations. Flores also noted the tremendous support of Mayor Donnelly, State Representative Tan Parker and his Chief of Staff Trish Robinson, and longtime mentor and Denton County Judge Andy Eads for assisting in the mental, emotional, physical, financial and logistical support for Mission Moms Mobile Meals.
Flores said each bag of groceries costs roughly $10 and feeds a family of 4-6 for a week. Donations are always welcome at www.missionmoms.org.
“We were fortunate to secure a grant from the North Texas Cares Act that got us through a month then a large donation from an individual foundation that got us through another month and we’ve been continuously blessed throughout the 25 weeks with enough,” Flores said.
“The goodness in humanity is everywhere. We can easily see the hatred spread, so we just choose to surround ourselves with those that spread hope and make us better.”