It is worth the tears and exhaustion

July 31, 2016

“Justin was a single white guy who had a house in this neighborhood. He was a teacher and mentored 100 kids. Out of those kids, only 2 had dads. We met him, and he told us we should come help with the kids. We came down here with picnic blankets, a big bowl of snacks, and Capri Suns and sat next to the merry-go-round every Sunday at 2:00. We didn’t knock on doors but the kids came to us. It turned into 50-60 kids every Sunday. We played volleyball and kickball and it grew into the next step. We had started monthly missions, so we partnered with Justin’s house and Justin’s kids, we did relay races and grilled out. We had dreams of an after school program and when Justin moved, he told us he wanted to rent this house and continue with what we were doing. We were in the park every week and started the after school program. Some of our kids are teaching some of our neighborhood kids that don’t come to The Village the positive things they learn here. It is neat to watch. They aren’t bad kids, but they need something positive in their lives.”

“You can see a difference?”

“We have been here for eight years and started the after school program four years ago. The housing authority has told us crime has gone down since we have been here. It may not be us, but it may be having the presence of a positive light and change and something good around. We have some kids that will cuss you out and in the next sentence say they want to be here so bad. They don’t know how to treat each other because their home life is totally different than ours. We don’t excuse it and we try to correct them and hope they keep coming back for the good stuff. It will wear you out, but it is rewarding to see the one kid you thought would never change come up and say, ‘Can I do this for you?’ ‘Holy cow, yes.’ It is worth the tears and exhaustion. I question myself if this is where I am supposed to be and God sends little reminders that it is going to be alright. Keep going.”

“Why do you do this?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t grow up doing this. My parents taught me to love everybody and everyone is important. My grandmother was big on loving people who aren’t like you and letting them know you care about them. After Todd and I got married, I was designing necklaces and selling them in my pottery studio, it was extra money and we decided to give it to missions and started Mission Change at our kitchen table. People wanted to volunteer so we put a group together and had 25 people show up one Saturday that we didn’t know and we worked on an elderly lady’s house. They asked me what we were doing the next month, so it kept going and more people showed up. I didn’t know what I was doing, I had never done this before. But it was clear other people wanted to serve. We had no money but we had time, energy and people who wanted to do stuff. I went to a lot of meetings to see what is going on and how to connect people. With necklaces and t-shirts we raised over $10,000 in a few months.”

“I would like to see more Villages happen and after school programs in other neighborhoods and have more teams come during the whole year. We are still trying to open the eyes of people who don’t think there is a need in the city. We want to get people to serve instead of just giving money. We need that, but I want each donor to come experience, touch it and feel it and know in their hearts why they are giving. We want more people in the circle that we call the service of life. People don’t hear about the needs and think they aren’t there. We just want people to show up. Anyone can serve, you just have to make time to do it.”


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