A New Path for Us in Allendale

It was less than a year ago when we committed to moving to Allendale. I didn’t know what I would do job-wise. Teaching was an option, since I knew I wanted to be around kids. But I was glad to have been hired by the recently-formed Boys & Girls Club organization.

The Start

With the January 31 launch date, youth in Allendale County would have a safe and positive place to be every day after school. We were excited about the opportunity to work hands on with children and to connect with their parents, in order to prepare the next generation for success.

As I hoped and prayed for, we had a successful launch, averaging 70-80 kids per day, plus more on a waiting list. There was energy and excitement in the community, and we were thankful to be a part of it.

The Rocky Path

But over the past few months (actually, the issue has been apparent for most of the year), we have become increasingly concerned with some decisions by other leadership in this organization – both the decisions themselves and the decision-making processes. In general, we feel that decisions have been made that are not in the best interest of the children and families of Allendale. Some of these decisions are even hindrances to working with children in this community.

(The Boys & Girls Club organization that I have worked for encompasses Barnwell and Allendale Counties. Most of the issues I have experienced have been with folks outside of the Allendale community.)

I have addressed my concerns with my supervisor and with board members. But instead of the conditions improving, I believe they have worsened.

Who I am (my vision, passions, and strengths) has grown more and more divergent from the vision and desires of the Boys & Girls Club in this area. I found myself having to make choices between what I feel is right, and with what is required of me. To continue down this path would not be healthy for me, and, in turn, not fair for the organization.

Therefore, I have resigned from my position from the Boys & Girls Club organization. I will finish working through the end of the semester, with December 16 being my last day.

The Obstacles to Leaving

The decision to leave was difficult. I almost did so several times since the spring, but each time I remembered the great opportunity this job provided for our family to minister to children in Allendale. Even the week that I was “confident” I needed to resign, I asked God for signs, and when He provided them, I questioned, “Wait, God. Are You sure I should do this?”

I will miss a lot working in this job, including:

  • Relationships with the children in the program, helping them with life skills.
  • Connecting with parents, as we sought to come alongside them.
  • Helping volunteers use their gifts and passions to serve children.
  • And — the best part of this job — our family being together every day.

We’ll Keep Going Forward

While I will no longer work for this organization, we are staying in this community. We committed to the children and families in Allendale before we committed to the Boys & Girls Club, and we are still committed to them. [Edit: Despite what one person said, we did NOT move on to Bigger and Better things.]

We still hope to volunteer with this after school programming, both for the ministry opportunity for our family, and because virtually all of our kids’ friends are at the Club. We want to be a part of the lives of these children that we’ve grown to cherish.

By God’s gracious provision, I have a handful of job possibilities before me. I have already started tutoring with one of the schools, and I’m considering a couple of other part-time positions with the school system. As much as we’ll need to figure out what to do, we’ll also need to determine what to say “no” to. We’re thankful for friends and mentors who counsel us, for our leadership, in this transition.

Over the next few weeks, please join us in praying for:

  • Wisdom to know what job opportunities to pursue, and which ones to move away from.
  • The children in the Club (and their parents) as we communicate our decision.
  • God to show us where He wants our family to engage the culture.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me.

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15 responses to “A New Path for Us in Allendale”

  1. Joseph says :

    Praying for your next steps.

  2. torreswt223 says :

    Wow Joey! Praying for you and your wonderful family. Hoping your shoulders are not feeling too heavy right now!! Will be expectantly waiting to see how God uses this for his glory.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      I appreciate the prayers and encouragement, Wendy. Actually, once we made the decision, it felt like a weight lifted. That was definitely one of the confirmations. Of course, it doesn’t make it easy from here on out (especially the part about telling the kids at the Club).

  3. Karen says :

    What a big step for you and your family. I will keep you all in my prayers. Like others have said, we also will look forward to God’s beauty in all of this. You and your family are precious and such a wonderful example of living for Jesus.

    Hannah enjoyed her time with y’all last week. I had to work through a little jealousy…I was so eager to see her, too. She loves y’all so very much! Thanks for sharing your lives continually with her.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      Thanks, Karen. We don’t always feel like we’re such a great example, but instead we’re stumbling around trying to figure out what God is doing. Good thing we serve a gracious God, right?

      Yeah, I know we kept her for quite a while. But I’m not apologetic! 🙂 Our family enjoys her so much. She’s so special, and in so many ways, she’s what I want my own Hannah to be like.

  4. ragamuffinjoe says :

    We will be praying for you. God will open up new opportunities, no doubt. I think sticking with the schools will be a great chance for God to use you. I saw a lot of kids who just needed a positive role model while I was there.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      Totally agree that more role models / mentors are needed. I tell you the truth, being here and involved with the schools have given me a whole new appreciation for teachers. And God works in wondrous ways — if you would have told me a year ago that I’d be this passionate about public schools, I’d have thought you were crazy.

  5. Yih-Shing Voelk says :

    Hi Joey, we will pray for wisdom and peace in this transitional time!

  6. Jen P says :

    Kudos on your bravery. Both to leave and to stay.

    • joeyespinosa says :

      Thanks. Never would have thought of it as being brave both ways. Sometimes we just make the best choice we can (at least, what we think is the best choice), and hope for the best.

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