Their first introduction to serving among those living with mental illness came nearly 20 years ago, shortly after Paul and Maggie Frank moved to Dallas. The house church they attended started serving Thursday night meals at a fledgling ministry called the Well Community. “It seemed like a fascinating ministry,” explains Paul. “So, we participated monthly in a rotation of people helping with the weekly meal and worship time. We helped serve the meal and clean up, hung around and participated in the worship.”
“Over time we came to appreciate that it is difficult for people living with mental illness to come into a conventional church service. People don’t understand them,” Paul explains. “So, it was important to provide a community where they would feel comfortable, could be supported generally and could support one another. They needed a place, like the Well, where no one would call them out or make them feel strange. There was great worship. The staff and volunteers seemed to really be able to connect with these people who had trouble connecting with others.”
Before coming to the Well, Paul and Maggie did not have much experience with individuals who deal with severe mental health issues. But they did have a personal encounter in their early days in Dallas when Paul went through a period of depression. “I was mentally ill to a certain degree for a limited period of time, and I was able to recover. But that helped me to realize what a weight and burden a mental disorder of any kind can be. Our experience influenced our concern for helping people who are going through those things,” Paul says.
At the time they had close friends whose son was struggling with mental health issues. They were glad to introduce the family to the Well for support. Over time, that family also became volunteers and monthly donors to the Well.
“We began supporting the Well financially in 2005 as we became aware of the needs, particularly as it expanded and grew into weekday ministry and later added Jacob’s House, providing housing for men. We feel privileged to be able to give monthly for these many years, as well as to support special opportunities like North Texas Giving Day,” Paul shares.
The Franks’ experience with the Well Community has had a long-term impact on them. They moved from Dallas to Washington, D.C. in 2008, but have continued to follow and support the Well. Now they have done so longer from there than they did in person.
“We came to admire the Well from a professional point of view in terms of how they worked, how sensitive they were and how well they engaged with community around them,” says Paul. “Here in D.C., as in any U.S. metropolitan area, we see people on the street who seem to be struggling with mental health issues, and we sometimes say to ourselves, ‘There’s somebody who needs the Well.’ They need the kind of help that the Well uniquely provides to Oak Cliff and surrounding areas.”
Because of their faithful monthly support, the Franks were invited into the Well Wishers Circle. This initiative was launched in 2021 to encourage donors to give regular monthly support (of $25 or more). They easily saw the value of sustained giving and were glad to participate.
Paul explains, “Working in the nonprofit sector myself, I can appreciate how hard it can be for planning when you don’t know what money is going to be coming in. When you are totally dependent on donations and grants, they may come and go; you may have a grant for a period of time and it runs out. People give sporadically; it’s very hard to plan when you don’t know what resources you’ll have.
“When we give regularly, we form part of a steady income for ministry as leaders make plans, need to hire somebody or pay for routine expenses. Knowing that a certain amount of their income is going to be regular helps them take care of the regular bills and I hope, put their focus on the programs and not on trying to find more money. Recently we were invited to increase the amount we give monthly and plan to do that this year.”
How about you? Are you ready to make a meaningful impact on those who live with chronic mental illness to join the Well Wishers Circle? Click here.