ML&L Cares Program Spotlight: Cristo Rey

ML&L Cares Program Spotlight: Cristo Rey

About four years ago now Will and I decided to implement the ML&L Cares: Trusted Choice for Charities program.  What is this?  Our agency will donate $500 each month to a local area non-profit that is referred to us by YOU our clients.  Just email with the name of the charity, a quick description and contact information for the charity.

The name of the charities that are referred to us go before our ML&L Charity committee that consists of a team member from our service, sales and management team and they select one recipient each month.  The charities that were not selected stay on our list for the following month.  The more times the same charity is referred the more weight it is given before the committee.

If you have a charity you would like to nominate email your nomination to !

This month’s recipient is: Cristo Rey

For the month of February, our MLL Cares program reached out to Joe Garcia, the CEO of Cristo Rey Community Center. Joe is a fantastic man and very energetic and outgoing, he’s a man that cares about not only the community as a whole, but the community he lives in especially. These are the type of people and organizations we enjoy donating to. Through speaking with Joe, I also found out that we grew up in the same hometown and even went to the same high school, albeit not at the same time, but randomly running into another Lumen Christi Titan out in the world outside of Jackson is always a pleasure.

I got the opportunity to speak with Joe for a few minutes and see the passion, energy, and enthusiasm that he has for helping those around him. He was currently working on a project for one of their patrons that had a very unfortunate accident happen. That accident was making everyday tasks extremely difficult. Joe and Cristo Rey were attempting to raise $5000 to help get this man back on track. I would love to get into this story more, but they wanted the gift to remain anonymous, both Cristo Rey and the individual they were helping. This is where I can come in though, if you would like to donate to Cristo Rey to help them raise the $5000, you can reach out to Joe personally, his phone number is 517-253-8258 and his email is

I know I spoke a lot about Joe, and their current goal, but I would also like to touch on what exactly the Cristo Rey Community Center is and what they do. Cristo Rey is a multi-faceted local community center that sits in the 48906-area code here in Lansing. To summarize them, Joe did a better job than I could, he wrote:

”CRCC is a non-profit basic-needs service center that provides access to food, medical care and counseling programs to all our neighbors in need.  Since 1968 we have been working to heal the sick, feed the hungry, protect and enrich children, engage and honor our elderly, and advocate for the most vulnerable in our community.

Cristo Rey Community Center has helped many people get back on their feet during difficult times, has not turned them away when they needed a doctor, food or clothing; when things felt the most desperate they were treated with the understanding and compassion that everyone deserves.”

Cristo Rey offers health services for those in need which include access to medical care for first aid, vaccines, chronic illness, pediatric services, and prescription aid and several other services as well. These services are available for the insured and uninsured in the community. On top of providing medical aid, they also offer several different types of counseling services too. Some of these programs are for families, such as the Substance Abuse Recovery Family Program which teaches youth how to deal with addiction in family members, information about those substances and tools to seek help for their own substance abuse if needed. The Roots and Wings program is for a parent and teen (ages 9-16) and teaches kids and their parents how to build healthy and clear communication skills and is also family focused. On the other side of the family spectrum, they also have a program for parents with young kids. In this program, new parents (with kids ages 0-8), are taught skills on how to provide healthy communication, how to address the different stages of development in your child, and how to discipline your child without using physical punishment. Some of the counseling programs are also geared more toward the individual first before opening up to how to effectively deal with others like family members. These services are the Substance Abuse Assessment and Treatment service and the Anger Management counseling services.

Cristo Rey also offers a Financial Empowerment program which helps individuals create more financial security as well as personal budgets for themselves. They also direct them to services that may help lesson some burdens on them between debts, low pay, bills, and food/needs. There are several areas this program focuses on:

  • Banking – which helps the person create a healthy and stable bank account as well as manage the money within that account to maximize it’s potential.
  • Reducing Debt – by creating an actionable plan, with goals to reduce their debt.
  • Credit – By determining the best way to apply and get credit or by improving the individuals credit scores through an action plan.
  • Savings – By helping create, maintain, and grow a savings account/create an emergency fund and by helping to create good money habits, a savings mindset, and savings habits to reach or make a larger financial purchase.

In the year 2020, the Financial Empowerment Center completed 785 sessions and helped reduce non-mortgage debt by $444,939 as well as increase savings by $55,228. Since the Financial Empowerment Center was founded in 2013, it has completed over 10,000 coaching sessions.

On top of what I’ve mentioned so far, Cristo Rey also offers a Community Kitchen, which offers hot breakfast and lunch. During the harshest months of the year, it also serves as a warming/cooling center, depending on the season. This aids the more than 5,000 homeless humans in Lansing. Last year alone, the Community Kitchen served 13,612 breakfasts, 12,348 lunches, and 25,943 people total.

An open distribution of food items is also provided twice a month, which include fresh fruits and vegetables to those that need it. The yearly impact of this program is quite amazing when you look at the stats. Last year they were able to reach 1,465 households for a total of 77,260 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetable boxes distributed. That’s a total of 5,381 people served in just one year!

To further prove Cristo Rey’s commitment to the local community, they also have a food pantry that offers both fresh and non-perishable food items to residents of the 48906-zip code or those that are only Spanish speaking individuals. If it’s an emergency, and you aren’t a permanent resident, walk-in emergency food kits are also given out. The food pantry also has a fresh bread rack which gives out 2 loaves of bread to every household five days a week. All are welcome to participate in this program and it operates Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM. Their food pantry has an absolutely incredible impact on the 48906 community. Last year, they provided food for 4,156 households (13,395 people), for a total of 250,055 pounds of food.

Because Cristo Rey cares deeply about their community and helping raise its members up, they also created a program called “Tech en la Casa”. This program teaches Spanish-speakers work-force readiness information and useful computer skills for the workforce. The program also welcomes kids to learn along with their parents to not only make it a family learning experience, but also to share information more broadly in the community.

A Senior Citizens Program is also offered for community members over the age of 60. Cristo Rey provides crafts and activities for the members and allows them to have a comfortable space to relax and/or be social in. This event happens every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 AM – 3 PM (except for in June-August) and breakfast and lunch are available to them in the Community kitchen. Many of the participants in this program primarily speak Spanish, and this allows them to socialize comfortably with each other around people with similar interests and cultural backgrounds.

To continue to show you just how much this organization does for the residents of Lansing, we’ve entered a full on third page of this blog post! As you can tell, this organization does a lot, and they do so in a direct, and in an indirect manner as well. What I’m about to talk about is a few of their direct methods. They have several options of direct assistance for any situation a person may need help in. They offer a Community Clothing Closet, where gently used or new clothing can be found for men, women, and children. People are allowed to visit twice a month and the closet is completely donation based. The community center also offers a personal needs pantry which provides items like personal hygiene products, laundry items, and feminine products. This is also a donation-based program that allows people to come in once per month. Last, but certainly not least, is the baby and diaper program. This program distributes things like diapers, wipes, formula, and other baby food items. The baby and diaper program also runs off donations and allows families to receive items once per month as availability allows.

I know this was a longer blog post, but the aid and support that Cristo Rey provides locally is astounding. They deeply care about helping locally and trying to set all who ask for assistance, up to lead a successful life. Joe Garcia is the embodiment of what Cristo Rey is striving to do, he’s passionate about helping, energetic, and always looking for ways to benefit Cristo Rey and their mission. I only was able to meet with him briefly, but it was very obvious during our conversation.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Cristo Rey, what they do, or even in volunteering with them, feel free to check out their website or even contact Joe Garcia directly at 517-253-8258 or They really do some amazing things and benefit the Lansing and 48906 area code greatly. Also, if you’d like to donate directly to their $5000 goal to help one of their community members get back on their feet, the best way would be to contact Joe. You should check them out!

Sign up to Volunteer at Cristo Rey here.


If you would like to donate please click on the link:

If you have a local charity that you would like to nominate please email with a brief description of the organization and stay tuned to our social media.

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