A Vision for Allendale: Looking Back, Looking Ahead
In the past couple of months, I’ve received (in reference to our ministry in Allendale):
- A suggestion to develop specific goals, and
- A request for our mission statement.
Do I have either one? Nope. Non. No. Nyet.
I have written about Our Ultimate Purpose in Allendale (to spread the gospel), and I do have a mission statement for this blog (on the Are You New? page). And it should be obvious that we have a passion for working with children. But we have not (yet) developed concrete goals.
A Vision for Allendale
However, I started thinking about this in January, especially after reading Why Vision Is More Important than Strategy (an article by Michael Hyatt). With my ever-present notebook, and a few minutes of quiet, I thought, “What do I want to see in Allendale, over the next 3, 5, and 10 years?” At the time, this is the vision that came to me:
“Allendale County will produce young men who succeed in academics, career, and family.”
In other words, we want to help “at-risk” boys break the cycle of poverty, find success, and be productive members of society. Of course, we also have worked with girls and young women, and will continue to do so. But if we can reach the Angry Boys and direct them to a better future, the girls will follow. (And we will still include girls, especially Fatherless Girls, in most of what we do.)
How would we work towards this vision? None of my thoughts were earth-shattering or novel or mandatory. But four ideas in particular came to me:
- Male mentors in the schools (especially at the elementary age)
- Churches to become invested in students (not including regular church activities)
- After school and day camp programs
- Language for Manhood, such as Men’s Roundtable
The commonality in all these: relationships. For young men (or anyone), life change happens best in the context of loving relationships.
But where does that bring us now? Well, we are approaching two years of living and serving in Allendale. We are looking forward to more involvement, as we primarily focus on helping children and families achieve success and fullness of life.
We see our ministry being divided into two main categories: that which we ourselves will do, and that which we want to equip others to do.
Some ways that we have been involved personally (and want to continue to do so):
- Developing and leading Spring Break and Summer Camp programs (check out Elevate on Facebook and Twitter)
- Volunteering in after school programs (especially to help children with homework)
- Tutoring high school students
- Informal and mentoring relationships
- Coaching (at the high school and for the rec department)
Not only has this ministry been fulfilling to us, but our own children have formed great relationships through these endeavors.
A Wider Reach for a Bigger Impact
We could be content with our personal ministry, but we know that our efforts will have a limited reach. We can only tutor so many kids, or have so many in our camps. To help bring about sustainable, long-term change, many laborers are needed. To this end, we want to help others get involved. To this end, we will work towards:
- Talk to churches, about recruiting members to be involved in schools and child-oriented programs
- Provide opportunities for local and out-of-town volunteers to connect with children (such as in day camps)
- Support and promote a variety of local programs and events for children
- Work to increase the number of community members who are involved in the schools (such as in free tutoring, classroom assistants, and mentoring)
All that being said, we probably still need to develop specific goals. Tangible goals (though they may change) will encourage us to keep moving forward when things get tough, and when we are Wondering and filled with doubts. And whenever God calls us to leave Allendale, having specific goals will help us know that our purpose has been served.
- A New Path for Us in Allendale
- We Are Allendale
- Great Un-Expectations
- Mentoring: A Gameplan for Poverty
- My (Much) Better Half
- Good Fortune
**image courtesy of msneves via sxc.hu