|John Mika from The Teacher's Desk|
“My vision here is two-fold, one— to help children in need and two— to support teachers and say hey, somebody cares about you and somebody cares about the incredible responsibility on your shoulders. We want to do all we can to help them,” explained John Mika, Director of WNY Shares and the newly opened ministry store—The Teacher’s Desk, both non-profit charitable outreach arms of Kingdom Bound Ministries.
Mika went on to explain the average teacher spends between $500 and $2000 per year of their own income on additional classroom expenses. With some private school and charter school teachers making just $21,000 per year and spending their own money to make learning possible for children who can’t afford supplies, Mika explained the schools need help. It is this concern and care that led Mika and the team at Kingdom Bound and WNY Shares with the help of many community partners to open The Teacher’s Desk, a 5,000 square foot space on Northampton Avenue in Buffalo. The Teacher’s Desk includes a store with all free supplies including backpacks, shoes, pencils, notebooks and more for qualified teachers to shop free for their students in need. The space also has office space and a shipping and receiving area. To start they will be working with five downtown schools with the hopes of growing into many more. Many area businesses, churches and ministries have come along side to assist in the effort including businesses like Walmart, Home Depot and Sherwin Williams.
The vision came together through a series of God orchestrated events explained Mika, who has been involved with Kingdom Bound and was best friends with founder Fred Caserta since the start. “Whether I was awake or not I don’t know,” explains Mika about a dream that he had outlining the ministry God had called him to do. Mika, himself a former substitute teacher and GM employee knew he had a calling to reach children with the gospel. So along with long time friend Fred Caserta they founded WNY Shares in 2002, as a way to reach out and help children. The vision has been growing ever since, with the storefront it is a type of promised land for the ministry’s efforts.
WNY Shares is also responsible for Send a Friend to Kingdom Bound enabling underprivileged and special needs children to enjoy the festival and A Gift for Christmas which gives Christmas gifts to needy children in the community. To get involved as a volunteer, school, teacher, donor or business sponsor see wnyshares.org.