This week, you’ll hear end-of-summer thoughts from the three interns. The order will be when they sent me their answers, which (you may notice) is exactly opposite of their introductory post. Today’s post is from Joseph Berry, but be sure to check out what Greg Massullo and Anna Marshall had to say.
Besides serving at our Elevate Summer Camp, Joseph was an intern at Fairfax Baptist Church (working with the youth), went on a mission trip with that church, volunteered at other summer programs for children, and helped with community improvement projects in Allendale.
This week, you’ll hear end-of-summer thoughts from the three interns. The order will be when they sent me their answers, which (you may notice) is exactly opposite of their introductory post. Today’s post is from Anna Marshall, but be sure to check out what Greg Massullo and Joseph Berry had to say.
Besides being a key leader and program developer at our Elevate Summer Camp (and see our Elevate Facebook page), Anna volunteered at other summer programs for children, built connections with teenagers and adults, and was a huge blessing to our family (she lived with us).
(Note: her original version of this post was 1296 words long. That’s a double-spaced, 5 page paper. Below you’ll find her edited version. What a good college student!)
This week, you’ll hear end-of-summer thoughts from the three college interns. The order of publishing will be when they sent me their answers, which (you may notice) is exactly opposite of their introductory post. Today’s post is from Greg Massullo, but be sure to check out what Anna Marshall and Joseph Berry had to say.
Besides helping out at our Elevate Summer Camp, Greg interned with Vision Ministries, volunteered at other summer programs for children, and built connections with local teenagers through playing basketball.
I’m helping out with Sender’s T-ball team. It’s been fun to run around with a handful of 5 – 7 year olds, and it turns out that two of his teammates live right down the road from us. After practice one night, we stuck around to play on the nearby playground, when the grandfather (who I have talked with once) of those two kids walked up to me.
“Are you staying here long?” he asked.
“No, sir. We’re about to leave. Why? Can I help you with something?”
“I needed to go to Fairfax, and I was going to ask you to bring my grandkids home when you were done.”
So, a man that I had talked with once before was about to entrust me with his grandchildren. It was encouraging (that he saw something in me that he could trust), but still a little shocking.
One of the benefits of me being here, and working with kids and leaders in the after school program,is getting to meet so many people in the school system. They are able to share so much insight with me, that would take a long time for me to observe on my own. For example, Marvin Love (a teacher, playwright, councilman, and fellow staff person) has been a huge asset and a great friend. Here is a summary of what I learned from another guy who works for the school system.
I have had a chance to connect with one particular man a few times, talking about sports, education, and our own families. I hope to continue to talk with him occasionally, both for the sake of me learning about this area, and for my own need for community.
He is from this part of the state originally. One of the first things he said was, “Kids here in Allendale are different than in the surrounding areas.” Actually, I’ve heard this idea from a number of different sources, regarding both students and adults. It’s not that the issues are different, but these issues are to an extreme that is very different than the counties around us.
The Issues He Sees
Here are a few core issues that he sees:
- Boys (and girls to a lesser extent) look up to the guys who are doing the wrong things, like dealing drugs, dropping out of school, having lots of sex.
- With a high unemployment rate (greater than 25%), boys don’t see dads (and moms) working. They don’t have an image of what it looks like to do something constructive.
- Teen pregnancy is critical. He estimated about 15-20 pregnancies this past year in a high school of about 200-230 girls. Think about it, that’s about 1 of every 12 teen girls having babies.
- Kids in high school tend to treat their moms (most have no dad in the picture) as their peer, not as an authority. Therefore, it “makes sense” for them to not treat teachers and other leaders with respect. I saw this firsthand at where I work, with a 5th grade boy, with whom I had issues with every week early on. His final day in the program, he started a fight right in front of his mom, and she never said a word. Then, he called me a “nigger” (ha ha ha) right in front of his mom, and she never said a word. I told her that he cannot come back until the three of us have a conference, and I haven’t heard from her again. I bet that he, at all of 11 years of age, basically runs the show at home. So the next logical step was that he thought he could run the show anywhere he goes. Not in my house.
The Solution He Proposes
When I asked what he thought we needed, to change the mindset of this next generation, his response was quick and clear. We need mentors. He would love to see a coalition of men and women who could spend time listening to and talking with these kids. These young kids need someone who cares about them. For some, this will be in lieu of what the parents are not doing. For others, this is about mentors who are coming alongside what the parents are teaching and modeling.
We need men to tell boys that when they are fathers, they need to stay connected to their own kids, instead of being passive and abandoning their families. We need men and women to tell kids to not get pregnant as teenagers. We need mentors to show kids how to take responsibility and give back.
Pray that God would raise up a harvest of leaders.
- 3 Basic Problems In Allendale: Poor Education, Teenage Pregnancy, and Disconnected Dads
- Why Your Church Should Raise Up Mentors — Part 1 and Part 2
- 4 Things That Dads Need to Do to Be Connected to Their Family
- What’s the First Obstacle in Working with Youth? You Are.
- Why Students Need a College Diploma, and How You Can Help Them Get There
- At-Risk Youth: What Can Be Done?
Meeting the Expert
The Expert’s Counsel
- He wished that he had more of an educational background, so that he could have some theory, instead of always just trial and error.
- Structure is such a big thing for younger kids. You need simple organizational systems to help them do things well.
- Reading is more than just looking at words. It’s about having a picture in your head and thinking critically.
- Imagine the programming from the child’s perspective.
- Just because a child does something wrong doesn’t mean that he is a jerk. They might never have been taught.
- When a child does do bad, don’t take it personally.