Bonnie Meyer is one of those people who makes you tired just listening to all they’ve got going on.
As director of Outreach Missions at First United Methodist Church in Crown Point, she’s involved with planning welcome events in the community that include a sock hop, a bunny hop, a corn roast and the popular trunk-or-treat event in October. And that's just the start.
Meyer initiated a Buddy Bag program at the church last fall that has been so popular she is hoping to expand it. After learning about a similar program in Kokomo, Ind., Meyer got interested in starting a project at First United Methodist Church to serve kids in the community. “The level of need was apparent, and the Buddy Bag program has taken off,” said Meyer. “The congregation loves it, and we’ve been contacted by other organizations that wanted to get involved.”
The program involves packing weekend meals for kids who receive free lunch at school. More than 130 packages are delivered each week to MacArthur School, Cedar Lake. Meyer said about 42 percent of the student population at the school that's part of the Crown Point School Corp. are living at or below the poverty level. Volunteers pack the bags during the week to deliver to the school. Each pack contains breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for Saturday and Sunday as well as some extra things a couple times a year, such as a school supply kit or personal hygiene kit. Additional food is added during longer breaks.
“We have a big heart for missions here,” said Meyer. “A lot of the donations of food and monies come from within the congregation.”
Other funding has come from outside sources such as the Legacy Foundation and United Methodist Foundation of Indiana. Meijer has donated gift cards, and Strack & Van Til donates bags to be packed. “I hope more will get involved,” she said, adding that extra money and food donations will allow them to expand the program to another Crown Point school that has a lot of students in need.
Meyer's efforts go beyond the Region with an outreach team that has been going to Kentucky each year to a poor area on the Tennessee border where they help repair homes and weatherproof them. Meyers joined this more that 20-year-old mission a few years ago, serving in various capacities including driving the church bus to Kentucky.
Meyer organized and acts as team leader for a mission trip to Roatan, Honduras. Since 2011, her group has traveled to the island each winter to do minor construction and make repairs to churches, schools and homes. They’re also building a new church in place of one that was condemned and torn down.
Meyer's international outreach doesn't stop there. For the last decade, Meyer and her wife, Karen Wyss, have hosted 17 foreign exchange students. Currently the couple are hosting two students — a girl from Austria who is here for five months and a girl from Denmark who arrived last August for a full school year. They’ve also hosted students from China, Italy, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Norway. When the couple went to Europe last fall, they met up with 10 of their former students.
An author, Meyer's will release the fifth in her series of "The Adventures of Kicker and Flinnder" children's books this spring. Kicker and Flinnder are Dutch words meaning frog and butterly. Meyer also has written a series of books as a fundraiser for her work in Honduras with the illustrations done by a girl on the island.
A mother of two and grandmother of five, Meyer loves to play guitar and ukulele and has collected about 40 signatures of Hawaiian musicians on one of her ukuleles. She once played in the praise team at church, but now plays mainly at home and enjoys playing alongside her brother.