For many years Amy was working with the women primarily in evenings, and there was not that great a financial need. She raised money when she came back to Germantown and that funded most of the costs. Over time she added a Christmas party for kids in the neighborhood which grew to around a thousand kids. This was the only Christmas most would get. Many individuals at Germantown United Methodist Church (GUMC) gave specifically for that program.
For ten years, she held activities in the streets where there was little traffic. Interestingly the drug dealers would close off the streets during the day and give protection, because they said that if there had been a program to help them get an education, they would not be selling drugs.
Three years ago, Amy realized that a once a year party was not going to change lives, and it was costing a lot of money. That’s when Amy decided to open the school to truly make a permanent difference and help them escape the cycle of poverty. Since that time members of GUMC, the Mission Committee, some friends and a few other Christians have helped her financially. Unfortunately, this has not been adequate to meet the costs of running such a ministry. Amy took a job in the public schools in order to try to get enough to live on. As well intentioned as she is, this was just not enough, especially in seeing the need to expand given the demonstrated success of the last three years. -
Amy’s mother, Bettye Speake, has helped her raise funds in the past, but realized that a more permanent arrangement needed to be made. She and Amy asked John Ueleke to take the lead in building a longer term program and support. John had worked with Pat Whaley and SASHA ministry in Ukraine and Eastern Europe until Pat’s Call was not renewed a couple of years ago. Over Spring Break John & Margaret Ueleke took their daughter, Mindy Fischer, and her family to Costa Rica to spend time with Amy and her ministry as well as see some of the country. Although they knew about the ministry and had seen pictures, it was a real eye-opener to experience the ministry first hand. Practically every building (both houses and businesses) had iron bars over all openings. Fences were around most houses with barbed wire or concertina wire on top. Trash was everywhere, and many folks were just sitting around. It was as bad as the worst parts of Memphis. This is the home of Amy’s ministry.
Because this ministry started from the grass roots need of the community, it has had relatively little official support from GUMC. Currently, the Missions Committee provides $9,000 in their 2018 budget, and hopes to increase it if any funds remain at the end of the year. Primary support has come from Sunday School classes, members, friends, and other Christians. in 2018, the ministry operated on about $70,000-$80,000. Alturas has 5-6 part-time workers to help with teaching, feeding, transportation, etc. Amy does not receive a salary per se, but tries to live on what is left. She also teaches in the school system, but after additional expenses, medical insurance, required retirement plan contributions (which she will not be eligible to collect from due to length of service), and taxes, there is not a lot left for living. Financially it will make more sense for her not to teach in the public school given the time it takes and the relatively meager net income it provides. She often works 12 plus hours a day seven days a week, as she is on call for family emergencies with the many women she ministers to.
For 2019, we will need to raise about $130,000 for Amy to work full time at this ministry as well as educate 60 children, provide women’s ministry for some 500-600 women, and do some personal counseling in times of crisis.