Today we’d like to introduce you to Lynda Zelenka.
Lynda, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I love the mountains and as I reflect upon the most formative experiences of my life, I think of the mountain roads my family drove through so many times as a young girl that twist and turn then lead you to an even bigger mountain range. As you are traveling along you never know what to expect beyond the next curve. But then the road becomes straighter and you enter the valley and the scene is powerful as the Sangre de Christo Mountain Range comes into view. Today I have arrived; I have come to a clearer direction and calling on my life.
The foundation of my spiritual life began by my being blessed with a maternal grandmother that was an intercessor. Thus, I am a product of prayer.
I began my professional career one week after graduating from college as part of an aggressive management training program with General Electric Company. I went on to work in various sales and operations management positions within GE for ten years.
Prior to 1988, I was twisting and turning on the mountain road with my own strength and agenda. Since 1988, I have had various formative experiences helped to straighten out the road that God intended me to take. God has led me one step at a time, lighting every step of the way. Not that there haven’t been any twists and turns since, but knowing God is in control gives me peace as I step out in faith to answer my call.
In the spring of 2004, my Senior Pastor and I had a discussion, at which time he asked me if I had ever considered the ordained ministry. In our conversation, we discussed my passion for women’s issues related to ministry. We agreed to be in prayer and to see where God might lead us. Early in 2005, I was challenged in a Bible study to take a “divine step up”. In other words, what was I going to do to step out in faith and out of my comfort zone.
I felt my “step up” was to approach my Senior Pastor about enrolling in a seminary course. My devotional reading that morning was taken from Exodus 4, when God called Moses from the burning bush, sending him to lead his people Israel out of slavery. The devotional asked, “Is there anything holding you back from doing what the Lord is asking?” That same day my pastor requested I meet him and his wife for lunch. At that lunch, he explained that he suspected God was calling me into the ministry and asked me to explore the possibility of becoming a pastor in the United Methodist Church which was way outside my comfort zone!
The following day my devotional ended with the question: “What opportunity is God giving you to express your love and your faith in Him?” My opportunity had been presented to me, and I decided to err on the side of faith, rather than on the side of fear and disobedience.
This leap of faith, my corporate background and passion for those less fortunate gave me another opportunity. The formation of a separate non-profit 501 c 3, Cy-Hope, was birthed out of my home church where I received my calling and I am still currently serving, Foundry United Methodist Church. In 2011, I was named Executive Director of the newly formed non-profit: Cy-Hope.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Foundry United Methodist Church was gracious and generous in giving Cy-Hope seed money of $1 million dollars over a three years period knowing it was going to be completely separate from the church. When a non-profit is community focused but birthed out of a church congregation, you have some skeptics thinking this is just a bait and switch to get people into the church doors. This was an obstacle but was overcome because the founder, Dr. Godfrey Hubert, made sure Cy-Hope was formed by community influencers for the students in our community.
Our community is in unincorporated Harris County and the only defining road markers we have are the boundaries of our school district, Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD). If the territory of the school district were incorporated we’d be the size of Indianapolis so the area we cover is vast which is a challenge in itself. The mission is to make life better for all kids in our community, no matter what their economic status is. We bring hope for a brighter future for all students.
We’d love to hear more about your organization.
Cy-Hope was birthed by a core group of people concerned about the children in our community. Cy-Fair I.S.D. is the third-largest school district in Texas and the 22nd largest school district in the country. Unfortunately, over half of the over 117,000 students in Cy-Fair are labeled as economically disadvantaged, meaning a family of four makes less than $40,000/year (with 38% of those making less than $22,000/year).
Cy-Hope serves as a catalyst to bring needs and solutions together, bringing hope to all children so they will grow into educated and productive citizens. This will, in turn, make a lasting and positive impact on the community of Cy-Fair. Our vision at Cy-Hope is to rally our entire community: businesses, education, churches, civic organizations, hospitals, and individual volunteers to advance the goal of making life better for kids in Cy-Fair. We bring hope for a brighter future to students in our community by:
Our Backpack Feeding Program in most of the 91 CFISD schools, with over 75 volunteers and serving students with about 7 tons of food per week.
Our Providing Opportunities Program known as “POP” issues financial assistance for college and career readiness courses for economically disadvantaged students. To date we have issued over 8000 awards totaling over $462,000.
In partnership with Ambassadors of Compassion and 5 CFISD high schools and 1 middle school we have 268 students with 53 mentor coaches learning to engage youth with opportunities that inspire, motivate, and equip them for a hope-filled future. It is the experience of self-discovery that leads to transformed lives.
We have established 5 Hope Centers near Title 1 schools, four in apartment complexes, one in a trailer park. Students come after school to get help with homework and reading, learn life skills, play games, learn social and spiritual development skills as well as form healthy life-changing relationships with other students and adults.
Our STEM bus in which we will convert a bus to a wild and wacky science lab giving us the ability to make science and math fun and the convenience of going to the students in underserved areas.
Over the past eight years, we have sent over 862 underprivileged students to Camp Lemonade in partnership with Stoney Creek Ranch where they have the ultimate summer camp experience.
Cy-Hope Counseling Center is state-of-the-art counseling and speech therapy center where we offer counseling, assessments, play therapy and speech therapy. We bill on a sliding scale for affordability for all.
Our music initiative, Devine Virtuosos, has impacted students through the magic of music offering an annual band camp to 7th and 8th grade band students. We also host CFISD annual 5th grade choral festival.
We have established Dierker’s Champs to develop champions on and off the field. Under the direction of Houston’s “Mr. Astro”, Larry Dierker we want to provide the very best athletic instruction possible, but in an affirming, positive environment. Spring of 2020 we will have 375 players on 27 teams!
The Hope Chest resale market opened in September 2016 and became a profit center to support programs after ten months in existence.
At 12015 Barker Cypress. Donations accepted and shopping encouraged!
Monday, Thursday, Friday 10-5
Tuesday and Wednesday 10-6
Cy-Hope also hosts a variety of events and uses the Northwest Forest location as a venue for those in the community to rent. This has allowed Cy-Hope to share our beautiful location with the community and has helped raise additional funds for our Cy-Hope programs.
Plus we do much more!
Most non-profits focus on one area: feeding food-insecure students or an after-school program or a sports/music initiative or a counseling center or camp or mentoring. We are rare in that we have nine programs and all of them fill a gap. We take care of basic food needs all the way to college and career readiness assistance.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Being part of an organization that has overwhelming community support because they believe our current students are the future of our community’s success in years to come. Mere words do not adequately express the gratitude to have a job that you love because of the compassion of our donors and supporters.
- Address: 12715 Telge Road
Cypress, TX 77429
- Website: Cy-Hope.org
- Phone: 713-466-4673
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @cyhopetx
- Facebook: @cyhopetx
- Twitter: @cyhopetx
Cy-Hope’s photo collection