ENGAGE – Lunch Group Brainstorms to Meet Ministries’ Needs

By Don Maines, Houston Chronicle

Photo by Pin Lim/Freelance

May 28, 2013

Mark Rome, a volunteer with The Get Together business network group, uses his business savvy to help ministries such as T-shirt shop at Generation One market its product.

Mark Rome, a volunteer with The Get Together business network group, uses his business savvy to help ministries such as T-shirt shop at Generation One market its product.


When it comes to ministries seeking help, a local business network encourages them to ask and does its best to make sure they receive.

Members of The Get Together have met each month for lunch to assess the needs of Christ-centered ministries and come up with creative solutions to meet them, executive director Cathy Lawdanski said.

A portion of every meeting is spent presenting the needs of various ministries, she said.

“Needs are met in a number of ways – by sharing expertise, making contacts on behalf of a ministry, mobilizing volunteers, to name a few,” Lawdanski said of the 10-year-old network.

A year ago, Memorial resident Mark Rome complied with a request from Generation One by delivering a case of Gummy Bear vitamins to the nonprofit organization in Houston’s Third Ward.

Inspired by what he saw on his visit, Rome said, “God moved me to go deeper.”

He saw ways to share his skills as an entrepreneur to help market T-shirts in the printing shop where Generation One, a ministry serving impoverished portions of the Third Ward, employs young men. The workers also attend Bible study and classes on budgeting and parenting.

Rome also commissioned the shop to design T-shirts that he bought.

“I’m a paying client; so I got to see their business from that angle,” said Rome, who works in the newspaper circulation industry selling software and transporting pallets of newspapers for the Houston Chronicle and the New York Times.

That knowledge gave Rome insight into building a website, www.gen1shirts.com, for selling Generation One products and embroidery services.

“I realized we needed a software to let people create their own shirts. That saves valuable graphics time, allowing them to handle more volume with less manpower,” Rome said.

At a recent meeting of The Get Together, when Generation One asked for a 15-thread embroidery machine, someone sitting at the next table had one to give, member Steven R. Biegel reported on the group’s website.

The Get Together, whose corporate office is in the Galleria area, partners with a dozen Houston-area ministries, Lawdanski said.

“We started with a group of seven men,” she said. “In the past 10 years, Get Together members and those they have mobilized to serve have given 8,500 hours in service.”

Rome, 51, is an elder and chairman of the children, family and housing committee at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, where his wife, Ann, heads Foundations, an adoption and foster-care ministry.

The couple has been married almost 32 years.

They are the parents of two daughters, Sarah, 27, a fourth-grade teacher in Temple; and Whitney, 25, now in her second year studying to become a doctor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Their two sons are Adam, 15, a freshman at Memorial High School, whom they adopted from China when he was a year old, and David, 13, a special-needs child who was adopted from an orphanage in Taiwan when he was 7.

A native of Chicago, Rome was a student at Maryville College in Tennessee when he traveled to Houston on breaks to help his brother-in-law build houses and townhomes in the Memorial and Galleria areas.

Moving to Houston 32 years ago, he became an independent newspaper distributor.

Luncheons of The Get Together are held at The Barn at Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 8300 Katy Freeway at Wirt.

For more information, visit www.thegettogether.org or call 713.501.5802.

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