Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Making a creative difference amid the pandemic


Completed outdoor counseling pavilion and privacy fence which is next to the Project Carin~o buildings. Photo courtesy McCurdy Ministries Community Center.

Throughout the 109-year-history of McCurdy Ministries Community Center, formerly known as McCurdy School, in Española, New Mexico, many Volunteers in Mission (VIM) teams and individual volunteers have served in many creative ways. This year, VIM teams had to find ways to serve from a distance, including teams from Tulsa-Boston Avenue, following the cancellation of mission trips because of the pandemic crisis.

In February 2020, Tulsa-Boston Avenue formally adopted McCurdy, a Global Ministries and UMW National Mission Institution, as their national mission focus. Originally, the church planned to send mission teams to McCurdy later in 2020 to complete multiple projects for Project Cariño, the ministries’ mental health counseling program.

Project Cariño, started by a United Methodist Women (UMW) Prayer and Self Denial grant 36 years ago, provides mental health services free of charge to the more than 530 students and families who are involved in McCurdy Ministries Community Center and McCurdy Charter School programs. This vital ministry provides play, talk and family therapy with preschool to 12th grade students and their families, a Big Buddy/Little Buddy program linking older students with younger students for mentoring and fun, support groups, crisis intervention services, educational programs and retreats, and mental health support in the community. It is housed in two modular buildings donated by the national UMW. 

"The original plan was to send two Volunteer in Mission (VIM) teams from Boston Avenue to McCurdy to complete goals established in partnership with McCurdy staff, but the COVID-19 Pandemic put those best-laid plans of VIM teams to rest and 'Plan B' went into effect,” said Ed Payton, coordinator of the Boston Avenue/McCurdy Ministries Partnership. “Working with McCurdy Maintenance Supervisor Lawrence Martinez local carpenters were hired, and with God’s blessings, all major construction goals were completed within budget while impacting the local economy in a positive way."

“For our community, Boston Avenue created a win/win project that will make a hands-on difference for our students for many years,” said Patricia Alvarado, executive director of McCurdy. “The outdoor counseling pavilion was constructed, and we were able to employ carpenters who needed work during a difficult time. So in essence, Boston Avenue made a hands-on difference from a distance.”

The projects completed included the installation of a new concrete pad adjacent to the Project Cariño buildings, the installation of a privacy fence, reworking the utility enclosure, and the installation of a new covered outdoor counseling area. This new space will provide a special area for the program’s counseling staff to work with students in the great outdoors.

The Tulsa-Boston Avenue mission teams are pleased with their ability to complete these projects despite not being able to work on them in person. 

“God’s blessing made it possible to complete all but two minor goals while staying within budget and positively impacting the local economy,” Payton said. 

“McCurdy’s Project Cariño staff is thrilled to have this beautiful new outdoor space for counseling their clients,” Alvarado said.


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