Leesa Stephens, executive director of Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM), and Heather Thomas, GSM associate director, standing to the left of Stephens, look at a $3901 check presented to GSM by North Lake Community Church members. The church has presented a total of $5704.82 to GSM’s direct aide budget, exceeding the $5,000 goal church members set. 


60 — Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM) Executive Director Leesa Stephens, far right, and associate director Heather Thomas, standing next to Stephens, thank North Lake Community Church members for their donations that have totaled $5,704.82 for GSM’s direct aid budget.


screen shot 1, screen shot 5 —Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM) Executive Director Leesa Stephens holds a $3,901 check presented to GSM by members of North Lake Community Church as she and GSM associate director Heather Thomas thank church members for their efforts. The church has presented a total of $5704.82 to GSM’s direct aide budget, exceeding the $5,000 goal church members set. 



Leesa Stephens, executive director of Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM), and Jaime Espinoza, director aid coordinator for GSM, gave examples of families who have recently benefitted from the charity’s direct aid program.

The two described a woman with two children and another on the way. Her husband had left her, and she was behind on the rent. Another woman said her family’s electricity was about to be disconnected.

“I said ‘we can pay all of that,’” Espinoza said. “She just immediately started crying. She said ‘you don’t understand what this means to us.’”

Stephens said, “Those are families. They’re not just money on our balance sheet. They’re families we’ve been able to help.”

GSM’s direct aid program has benefitted from the efforts of North Lake Community Church, where members committed in late 2017 to raising $5,000 in a year for GSM’s direct aid. That happened after county commissioners decided to reduced the county’s contribution GSM’s direct aid by $5,000. The church raised a total of $5,704.82 

Direct aid is used to help people with expenses such as rent and utilities.

“When I think about the people we help, I always think, how many children are in that home?” Stephens said. “The kids didn’t ask to be in that situation.”The church’s pastor, Ron Keener, and several church members have invaded the GSM offices to present GSM with installments toward the $5,000 goal — $703 in November 2017, $1,100 in May, and $3,901 earlier this month. Some of the funds came from the sale of small hand-mate decorative crosses when church members set up stations outside local businesses. In other cases, people simply donated money, designated for GSM, to the church.

“You all know that our hears were broken when the county cut our (direct aid) budget,” Stephens told Keener and church members when they presented her with the $3,901 check. “I don’t want to dwell too much on the past. We really believed God would provide.

“These are funds that will keep people in their homes, that will keep people’s homes heated, that will provide antibiotics for children that are sick, that will help people get birth certificates so they can get jobs. They will go from God through you, through us, to the families that need them and we are just so grateful.”

Stephens said she was reminded of the saying “little is much when God is in it.”

“You are really putting your hands and feet to the faith that you profess,” Stephens said.”

Keener described the $5,704 fund-raising as “a church team effort.”

“A little over a year ago we made a commitment to Good Samaritan Ministries that we would raise $5,000 over the next year for them,” Keener said. “We pursued this with a positive attitude of ‘we can do this.’ But we couldn’t do this — only God could have pulled this off. What has happened, the last two months, have become a groundswell of support, even outside of our church.”

Keener said the church had committed to “fill in the gap and stand in the gap with these special people at Good Samaritan Ministries. They’re 25 years old this year, and how could we allow, in a community that does so much, how could we allow people to go without? And that’s what our church is all about — being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ our lord.”