Will You Be Here in the Fall?

image courtesy of hugoslv via sxc.hu

The last day of the school year (and after school programming) was June 2. It was a half-day for the schools, so we had kids arriving around 11:30 AM, with some staying until close to 7 PM. This 7+ hours with about 30 kids gave us a taste of our upcoming all-day programming through the summer.

At some point on that last day, while I was talking about our summer programming, one child raised his hand and asked, “Are you going to be here in the fall?”

I thought about his question, and the reality sunk in. For this child (and most of the other kids), having consistent adults in their lives is not common. It could be a disconnected dad, or the after school programming and leaders that went away a few years ago, or high turnover of school teachers and administrators. Whatever it is, many youth here have been let down and neglected by adults. Therefore, his question about whether I’d still be around was legitimate.

I’ve seen this before when folks come in to volunteer in this program. When someone comes back for a second time, the kids really take notice. They start to cling to those leaders. We’ve had volunteers that come in once per week, and the kids come to me and ask, “Is she going to come back every week?”

The children in this area have a need for love and attention, much like my kids or any others. But for many of them, that need is not being fully met, or even close to it.

When that boy asked if I would be back in the fall, I replied that I sure was planning to. We don’t know how long we’ll live in Allendale. It may be two more years, or six, or twelve. But we will continue to pour ourselves out for the next generation, and trust that God will guide our next steps.

By the way, today is the first day of our summer programming. We were off last week, so I’m not sure about our numbers to start off — maybe 25, but probably somewhere around 30-35. It will be a long day (8AM – 5PM). Please pray for us as we minister to these kids.

I am so glad to have other part-time staff, plus students from Grace Church (over the next 2 weeks), college interns (all summer), and other volunteers.

And I’m especially glad that Joanna and I get to serve together. From educational instruction, to fun activities, to organizing, she is so much better than me at what this program needs. This organization got a bargain for sure — paying me part-time and getting her for free!

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