“But prove yourselves doers of the word and not hearers who delude themselves, for if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in the mirror … goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” – James 1:22 - 1:24
Or to paraphrase, if you hear the words and do nothing about them, you are just a hearer, but if you hear the words and take action, you are a doer. Elisa Medina-Riebeling is most definitely a doer, and she always uses this quote to inspire people to action in her organization.
Elisa Riebeling Ministries is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting poverty by helping struggling individuals, families, single parents and abused women with their needs. There is help for all.
Growing up on the West Side in a poor and dysfunctional family, Medina-Riebeling saw firsthand how the kindness of strangers helped her desperate and struggling mother feed her family of five children.
“Seeing the hopelessness in my mother, seeing the fear that the food would run out before it was her turn in line – these things made me realize that I could make a difference in someone else’s life by being there for support in whatever way they needed assistance,” she said.
This period in Medina-Riebeling’s life imprinted in her memory and set her on the path toward ministry work.
When she was 15 years old, a friendly police officer took an interest in her because she did not associate with the troublemakers in her neighborhood. He told her about a group affiliated with the Boy Scouts called Police Explorers. She joined, and during her two years working with the police, she learned about the law and saw that many people needed help.
It was there that she became interested in counseling and comforting people with emotional problems. Most of them ended up in trouble because of unresolved emotional issues caused by abuse.
“It opened my eyes to what people were doing out there in the world, in our city,” Medina-Riebeling said.
By 1990, Medina-Riebeling was working in the sector of social services, agencies and nonprofit organizations created to assist the poor. She received training with VISTA (a national service program designed specifically to fight poverty), and this would propel her toward the ministry to which God had called her.
Medina-Riebeling began to collect donations of household goods, furniture and clothing. Operating out of her home and garage, she assembled a handful of men and women who helped her collect, organize and deliver all the items for distribution to those in need.
After Medina-Riebeling and her volunteers intervened to help a family facing eviction, Dawn T said, “They have helped me tremendously. They are my angels sent from God. I’m here for them, and I will love them forever.”
In 2005, Medina-Riebeling registered her ministry as a nonprofit organization. Her staff includes four full-time volunteers. Their spouses and other volunteers donate their time and 10 percent of their earnings.
Financial donations total about $1,000 per month, and the organization would love to partner with individuals, churches, businesses or corporations that would make financial donations to fund ongoing operating costs and outreach programs.
Medina-Riebeling stresses the need for a building where they can have an office and warehouse. Her home is their office, and a donated storage unit holds all donated items. They need volunteers to assist with clerical duties, fundraisers and ambassadors for outreach programs.
With your involvement, it is the organization’s hope and mission to help change lives through prayer, outreach and crisis intervention in San Antonio with the ultimate goal of preventing future crises.
“Our dream is to take this ministry nationwide, and open an office and warehouse each year in each state with all the programs that we have to offer,” Medina-Riebeling said.
Outreach programs include:
Our Father’s Kingdom Storehouse – This program involves distributing donated clothing, furniture, household goods and appliances to qualifying individuals and families free of charge. The goal is to establish a physical location where those with seasonal or even one-time needs can come and “shop” for free.
24 Hour H.E.L.P.: Helping Emergencies, Loving People – This program aids families and individuals in emergency situations such as little to no food, inadequate clothing, lack of hygiene products and utility disconnection. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
HAT: Home Assessment Team Members – Trained Home Assessment Team volunteers visit homes to assess families’ needs and determine what can be provided by Our Father’s Kingdom Storehouse and other outreach programs.
Loving Hearts, Single Parents – This provides supportive care, hope and guidance, along with resources and referrals that will help single-parent families develop and thereby enjoy better functioning households.
Healing Hearts Visitation – Encouragement through prayer will be available with trained volunteers who bring ministry and fellowship to those who are shut in due to illness, disease or crime – those who have no one else to visit them in homes, hospitals, nursing homes and prison. They will be holding prayer meetings for people struggling with depression and other types of mental illness.
Elisa Riebeling Ministries is a Christ-centered interdenominational ministry that seeks to help the underprivileged and fight poverty by assisting with basic, day-to-day needs. It is the proud winner of Accion Business Center’s First Biz Pitch Competition held at the Pearl Stables on Sept. 28, 2011.
The organization is seeking the donated services of doctors, dentists, optometrists, veterinarians, mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, attorneys, hairstylists and seamstresses for individuals and families who cannot afford to pay for these services.
Individuals, businesses and churches: If your heart is nudging you to volunteer or partner with Elisa Riebeling Ministries, please call the organization’s office.