by Ruth Calzada, Executive Director, Fort Worth Metro
People ask me often “why do you do what you do?” My short answer is always “I can’t imagine doing anything else.” But allow me to share my long answer with you.
I was 12 years old in the summer between my 7/8 grade school year. I was headed on a mission trip to Detroit, Michigan. We were going to be working in the inner city, and I could not have been more excited! We did street ministry, homeless outreaches, children’s crusades in parks and so much more. I was in heaven! It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I was hooked! The fulfillment in my heart was indescribable.
Fast forward to right out of high school. I was asked to volunteer with “Metro” in Stop 6. The man running the program was a part of my church, and he needed workers. That was in 1993, and here I am today, still in Stop 6. Only now I am the Executive Director.
After volunteering for a few years, I met my husband and he quickly jumped right in. We were married in May 1997. In August of that year, I quit my job and began running Metro full time. By January 1998, he did the same. Within our first year of marriage, we quit both of our jobs and went into full time ministry together. It was tough financially, but God never ever let us down!
We have raised our kids alongside the ministry. At 6 weeks old, my daughter was in a backpack carrier, while I gave out school supplies to needy kids. My kids were potty trained on our Metro outreach truck! And now they help us run the entire thing.
It’s our heartbeat! It’s our passion! It’s everything to us. The opportunity to invest into other people is the most rewarding experience I could ever have. There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing you were the hands and feet of Jesus. Nothing more amazing than seeing hope restored in someone’s eyes.
I have a philosophy that I was taught way back in 1993 when I first stepped foot into Stop 6 and I live by in ministry. I don’t wear sunglasses, or anything that covers my eyes! Often times, the beautiful people in the inner city feel forgotten, overlooked, neglected, unloved, not wanted and unimportant. My goal and my focus when I am out at Metro is to look people right in the eyes, to touch them, to hug them, to call them by name, to make them feel like they are the only person that matters in that moment. I keep my eyes uncovered so they know that I see them. Even more than that, God sees them! They are NOT FORGOTTEN!
Another question I get asked often is “You’re still doing that?” Often times people are shocked to find out that I’m still “doing Metro” after all of these years. Consistency and Longevity are two of our core values! We are in this for the long haul. Our goal isn’t to come in and provide our families with a quick fix. Our goal is to be a strong foundational resource that they can rely and depend on and yes we are over 25 years strong, but we intend on being another 25 years stronger!
If I had to share one of my biggest, honest frustrations, I would have to say that I believe people don’t realize the need that is literally right under their noses! So many programs and resources are sent over and over again to foreign countries. While I know there is such a great need there, we have MAJOR needs sitting right here in our back yard!
I remember one year, at Christmas, we had an organization that wanted to adopt one of our families. We were told to get “wish lists” from the kiddos. In our excitement, we sat the kids down and were ready to come up with a whopper of a CHRISTMAS LIST! Here is how the conversation went…
Me: Mireya, if you could have anything you wanted at all for Christmas, what would you want?
Mireya: (With a very perplexed expression!) School Supplies?
Me: No, I mean if you could dream of anything at all you wanted for Christmas, ANYTHING, what would you want?
I was shocked! Hope didn’t exist for Mireya! She didn’t even have the ability to dream! It broke my heart! I’ve seen this time and time again.
Last year we adopted a family and when we delivered the toys, I was shocked to see the conditions. We walked into the “living room” and in the middle of the room was one big torn up mattress and a broken futon. All of the children were sleeping right in the middle of that room on that one mattress. The gas stove was on to provide heat in the apartment. This was just a small taste of how many of our Metro families live. Kids are growing up right here in the City of Fort Worth, lacking so many of their basic needs being met and WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!
We’ve seen ups and downs, wins and losses, we’ve seen successes and failures. We’ve seen teen pregnancies and we’ve seen high school graduates. We’ve seen some of our young men get arrested, while others are now husbands and fathers. We’ve seen some pillars of these neighborhoods pass on to be with Jesus. We have roots. We have connection. They are our family! They mean the world to us. We protect them and love them as if they are our own. We take this calling very seriously.
We are in this for the long haul. Lasting change, breaking generational cycles, building strong foundations that will last an eternity!
Learn more about Fort Worth Metro by visiting http://ftwmetro.org