Any healthy person can tell you, from time to time it's important to do a check up of your body- even if you're not sick. The same is true of families, programs, and even organizations. A couple months back we asked staff, volunteers, and interns how we're doing with our youth. After hearing lots of feedback on how we're doing as a youth program, we are seeking to improve how we communicate with other programs and people in and out of the mission. In light of that, here are many of the things we do day in and day out with the kids of the Rescue Mission:
-Elementary: Tutoring, Homework help, art, music, crafts, creativity exercises, riddles, young chefs, young gardeners, and daily fun. -Teen: community service, field trips, weekly meals, games, and tutoring/homework help, Teen Late Nites.
-relational meeting one on one with adolescents by setting goals, trust building, identity identification, and spiritual enrichment.
- S.L.A.M. (Students Living A Mission)
-A 4 week summer program at the People’s Community Center for RM youth, and youth from other shelters. Through field trips, science, community service, and emotional awareness activities we seek to bridge the gap for low income summer learning loss. Also, teaching youth about the God of the Bible and how much He loves them increases their capacity to love and be loved!
-A mini-internship program teaching youth how to work, how to communicate with coworkers and supervisors, and exposing youth to a variety of work experiences.
-A week long mission trip with biweekly meetings throughout the year focused on teamwork, job skills, and relationship with God/neighbor. Primarily service oriented trip to Montana with dual focus on serving/receiving spiritually.
- ECE (Early Childhood Education)
-Giving our 1-5 year old population opportunities to grow focused on learning, play, attachment, and sharing.
If you feel your heart beating faster after reading about any of these opportunities, we can help match your passions with our needs! Committed, passionate, and knowledgable interns and volunteers enable us to change the cycle of homelessness, one youth at a time!
I arrived to "work" this morning to find an inspiring card on our desk from a local college addressed to James, Hannah, Ray, Kyle, & the staff at Adams St. Family Campus. It was addressed to us who tirelessly pour into our homeless kids, while at the same time realizing they're pouring into us as well. To every parent, volunteer, and community member we attempt to convey how special these kids are to us & to our community. I'm sharing the contents of the thank you note becuase it communicates who are kids are and how we promote growth in them. Not only are we seeking to inspire the kids we work with, but through the kids we are seeking to inspire our community to get involved with the incredible growth that is happening in their lives here. I hope these words of college kids from PLU that served us so well mean as much to you as they do to me:
"Thank you so much for opening your doors to PLU students this year! It was a unique experience to see a family shelter and work with the kids. The kids inspired all of us, and really pushed us to think outside our own worlds. All of you were so kind & gracious. We hope to corss paths again soon! Best Wishes,
J-Term on the Hill Students"
Last Thursday’s After School Program started like many others: the kids had answered the riddle of the day, were eating their after-school snacks, and were receiving help from student volunteers and staff on their homework. This pattern continued until 5:00 pm, when the kids excitedly dispersed within the youth building for “Free Time.” Some started playing an intricate game of shop keeper wherein different playing cards represented different monitory values, some played pool or foosball—forming teams and creating their own rules, and some wanted to play dice with the volunteers and staff.
I found myself among the seven individuals whom Skylar, an eight-year-old in the program, had enthusiastically convinced to play a surprisingly intricate dice game he had learned in school, called “Fifty.” The primary rule of the game was that one needed to role fifty points to begin playing (as represented by a five on the die), and after one earned one’s fifty points, one could continue to gain points by rolling more fives or multiples of another number. If one does not role any fives at all, however, one’s turn is skipped entirely. This description sounds somewhat simple in writing, but is slightly less so in practice.
Somewhat confounded by the intricacy of the game, the other adult volunteers and I quickly realized that Skylar was not alone in his knowledge of this game; all of the kids in the After School Program seemed to know some rendition, and caught on with relative ease. Predictably, It wasn’t long before the kids’ scores were almost double those of the volunteers and staff. Although the we did catch on eventually, we sat for the majority of the game with mouths agape, puzzled and humbled by the infinite “Fifty” wisdom exuded by Skylar and the other five through ten year old in the After School Program.
After “Fifty” came to a close (with Skylar clearly proving to be the winner), several of the kids expressed their desire to go outside and play soccer and tag in the sun. After we had all gone outside, however, it became clear that the kids wanted to play another game I had never heard of; a rendition of tag called “Jabooba.” Although “Jabooba” was much simpler that “Fifty,” I still found myself asking the kids for rule clarification three or four times throughout the game, and was impressed by their collective determination to make sure all of the staff and volunteers understood the rules.
I tell these stories because as one who is used to assisting or teaching others, I am continually awe-struck by the amount those whom I am teaching ultimately end up teaching me. While the two instances I have provided above are slightly more quantifiable examples of what I have learned as a Youth Program Intern at the Rescue Mission, I have also gained less quantifiable knowledge—such as better understanding how to positively communicate across age, class, and race barriers—communication skills that can translate into nearly any environment.
Come join us in the After School Program and get to know some of the most valuable teachers you will ever meet; K-12 students whom you tutor or mentor.
Last night about fifteen members of the Rescue Mission’s Teen Program and four staff members jumped into Rescue Mission vans and headed to the University of Puget Sound to explore the campus after-hours. Although many of the buildings were closed, the trip was largely successful with our teens receiving a campus tour through the music and science buildings, the library, and a student residence hall; doing a relay race and playing basketball and other games the university’s Warner gym; and eating pizza in the university’s pizza parlor, The Cellar.
While field trips such as last night’s serve many purposes such as rewarding our teens for their hard work at home and in school, the most important purpose is to motivate our teens to pursue education and eventually attend college. According to our Youth Program’s Coordinator, Raymond Randall, “I do not know whether a field trip like this one will motivate teens to go to college. I do know that it puts the word college into their vocabularies. Being on a college campus may make it seem more real and tangible and thus, perhaps, more attainable. I hope they left [last night’s field trip] with an idea of what college life might be like. It's up to them to decide if that's what they want for themselves.”
Motivating teens to go to college is not, however, the only valuable outcome of our teen field trips. When I asked Raymond to provide what he thought were some of the most important outcomes of Rescue Mission Youth Program field trips, he suggested that field trips “like our monthly Teen Late Night...give teens who are suffering from homelessness an opportunity to have fun, explore new places, interact in positive ways with peers through team building games, [and to] learn things about themselves--such as hidden talents or new hobbies. It also gives them a chance to be a little more carefree (free from having to watch siblings, or other hardships that many accompany homelessness).” In other words, while we hope field trips such as this one will inspire our teens to attend college in the future, it is equally important that the trip serve as a source of fun and personal growth in the present.
As stated by Raymond, “When planning field trips my intent is to provide teens with opportunities to learn about what’s out there in the world and what they can strive for, while also allowing them to learn something about themselves, and...feel more capable of achieving their goals. Their paths don’t have to involve college, but if they do, that's great. My hope is that they draw out some path for themselves; that they begin planning for the future [and have] something to work towards and be hopeful for.”
In addition to serving as a caring environment where kids can interact playing pool, partaking in arts and crafts, and engaging in organized interactive activities; The Rescue Mission’s After School Program provides children with mentors and tutors who can help them become more efficient, confident, and capable students. Today, I would like to provide my own first hand experience volunteering in The Rescue Mission’s After School Program.
After helping Kayla trace her hand today in the Rescue Mission’s After School Program, ten-year-old Janay approached me and asked me to help her complete her assignment entitled “write the perfect paragraph.” I obliged enthusiastically (I am an English major and writing enthusiast), but after reading the directions I felt inexplicably overwhelmed. Me? Teach you how to write a perfect introductory paragraph?
I read over her assignment again and was appalled by how vaguely the instructions were worded. Suddenly the feat of writing an intro for a 5-paragraph essay seemed daunting and unattainable—I can only imagine how 10-year-old Janay felt. She clutched her pencil over her blank piece of paper, looked up at me with her huge brown eyes and asked quietly, “What do I do?”
Janay’s look of helpless confusion instantly sent me back to the 6th grade—Mr. Leigh with his amazingly large nose and unruly eyebrows, scribbling “Bing, bang, bongo” on the chalkboard and announcing that all three points must support the topic sentence and be stated within the introductory paragraph.
As senior in college, an English major, and the Youth Communications Intern for the organization in which I was presently seated, I was shocked that this memory boost was necessary. But something about being asked to teach this little girl information—something about being the source that determined whether or not she learned how to write an introductory paragraph correctly—had stunned me.
After I regained my composure (which somehow I managed to do by rereading the assignment), we dove in. To help Janay create a claim, or topic sentence, I asked her what her interests were--providing examples such as music and dancing. After a few minutes of brow-furrowed deliberation, Janay announced that she liked The Rescue Mission and wanted to write about why it was a great place to spend time after school. Somewhat surprised, I told her that that was a great idea, and explained that now she needed to support her claim by thinking of three reasons why The Rescue Mission was a great place to go.
Instinctually I assumed that Janay would say she liked The Rescue Mission After School Program because she got to play with her friends. When I suggested this idea, however, Janay quickly shook her head and stated, “It’s because I can get help with my homework.” Needless to say, I was incredibly moved. Here was first-had proof that the Mission’s tutors and mentors were viewed as valuable not just by the children’s parents and the Mission itself, but were perceived as especially indispensable to the children—and the best part of the program itself, according to Janay.
As stated in my previous blog entry, the more volunteers we have at the Mission, the more kids can receive the much-needed one-on-one attention children such as Janay need to excel in school. If you would like to spend time volunteering in the program, please click on our “Get Involved” tab above, or contact our Youth Program Director, James Leet, at email@example.com.
Within our society, homelessness can be almost solely attributed to a lack of resources (affordable housing etc.) within a given community, as well as the social and political oppressions such as racism, classism, and ableism.
Many forget that homelessness affects not only single, middle aged men (the widely accepted stereotype), but also women, children, and entire families. In fact, the 2005 National Coalition for the Homeless reported that nearly 41% of the homeless population in America is comprised of homeless families (98,452 families), including approximately 924,000 children who are deprived of basic needs such as food, education, and warm clothing.
One of the primary ways to prevent a homeless child from becoming a homeless adult is through education. The Rescue Mission stresses the importance both literacy and education play in achieving economic and social success through programs such as our March 1st Literacy Event. Further, within the Rescue Mission Youth Program, daily mentoring and tutoring interactions comprise some of the most important aspects of our youth After School Program. These sessions include one-on-one as well as group tutoring, which allow our kids to get the help any child needs to excel in school.
Of course, the more volunteers we have at the Mission, the more kids can receive much needed one-on-one attention. Our volunteers are invaluable to our children here at the Mission, not only serving as educators, but also as positive role models and friends. Any time you can dedicate to our children through mentorship or tutoring contributes to their confidence and happiness, as well as to their short-term and long-term academic success. THANK YOU to those who continue to dedicate their time and effort to our After School Program.
If you would like to spend time volunteering in the program, please click on our “Get Involved” tab above, or contact our Youth Program Director, James Leet, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Breaking the cycle of Homelessness—preventing homeless children from becoming homeless adults—is one of our principal goals at the Rescue Mission. While there are many events in a child’s life that can help to break the cycle in which they’ve been raised, we believe developing and maintaining a child’s self-esteem is the most fundamental building block for future success.
One of the primary ways children can build self-esteem is through excelling in given creative projects such as painting, drawing, and arts and crafts—activities which may seem small but have a big impact on young lives.
Here at the Rescue Mission, engagement in weekly creative projects such as building sustainable model cities and partaking in group art assignments not only contributes to a child’s sense of self actualization, it also helps develop important skills such as team work, communication, perseverance, and relationship building; skills which will not only contribute to enhanced self-esteem in the present, but also to leading successful and rewarding lives in the future.
In order to continue providing our children with the supplies necessary for creative projects, however, we’re dependant upon your continued support through monetary contributions.
Through your donations, you can help us provide our kids at the Rescue Mission with the supplies necessary for both shaping young lives and for laying the foundations that inspire little hands to do big things.
We need to raise money for our homeless children! Every August the Recue Mission Youth Program takes our homeless teens on a Mission Trip to teach them philanthropy, serving cross culturally, and to learn a regular work schedule. Last year our Mission Trip was in Montana and included building a mudroom (entry way), picking up thousands of rocks, and painting a garage for a Native American family in the area.
What We Do:
While the trip is geared toward teaching teens teamwork and building job skills, we also emphasize that our teen clients are valued and that the work we do at the Rescue Mission is give and take among clients and staff. Our objective is to teach them that they have a lot to give by serving in their community, and by staying involved in community outreach programs even after they leave our facilities, they will continue to help us in joining the fight against homelessness as they become adults.
How You Can Help:
You can help our homeless teens build positive self-esteem and learn a lot about what they have to offer the community, by helping us raise money for our Mission Trip through providing gifts for us to auction off at our annual Mission Trip auction to be held March 25th at the Trinity Church in Tacoma.
What We Need:
- Gift baskets
- Gift cards
- Small auction items
- Vacation/timeshare packages
- Dinner cruises
- You can also offer your services for auction (i.e. one donor is a massage therapist).
- Concert tickets or event passes.
- Other items you think will help us meet our goals to raise the money we need.
Please help! Not only do your donations help us provide important services to low-income families, it also teaches our homeless teens to become self-sufficient. It gives them an opportunity to know that they are loved, and can make a big impact on building a better community.
Please contact Kyle for further details . . . . email@example.com
Thank you so much for your time, we look forward to hearing from you!
In her 2010 speech at the TED conference, local-yet world-renowned 12-year-old child prodigy and published author, Adora Svitak, emphasizes the subject of being “childish.” More often, adults stigmatize childlike characteristics as immature attributes that have no place in the adult realm. She argues several controversial yet valid points for how much adults can learn from their younger counterparts. The Rescue Mission values this unconventional thinking in its staff and volunteers. We especially try to foster an environment that teaches our homeless children not to lose this divergent thinking as they become older and their responsibilities become more demanding. Comprised are a few ways adults can benefit by drawing from their youthful attributes, and why they should never under estimate the power that youthful intellect, creativity, and boundless thinking brings to the table.
- Children are a work in progress. At some point many adults value education less and focus more on what is expected to live up to the stress of bills, work, and their daily responsibilities. It’s important to never stop learning and continue working to make self-progress. As one of the RM adult clients put it, “as long as you’re living, there’s always room to improve.”
- Creative thinking . . . Think outside the box. Sometimes unconventional thinking, free from the confines of adult limitations is just what a person needs to solve complex adult problems.
- Being too serious can sometimes be seriously frustrating. Adults sometimes put too much pressure on themselves to live up to “expectations.” If we promote a positive work atmosphere that encourages people to do their best, then their best is likely what they will give you. Positive communication that brings interesting and playful new ideas leads to a greater shared passion for accomplishing complicated goals, and a greater interest in helping others to succeed as well.
There is an array of reasons adults and children can benefit by learning from each other. The Recue Mission Youth Program works to ensure that the adult/child relationship is give and take, and that each homeless child that enters our program is given an opportunity to contribute his or her ideas. Allowing children to involve their adolescent ideas to adult problems will better prepare them for adult situations and will promote an atmosphere that teaches them to be innovative thinkers.
If you're interested in becoming a part of this exciting educational experience, consider making a small donation or fill out an application to volunteer with our youth program today!
The New Year brings hopefulness for self-improvement and a greater initiative to right all the wrongs from previous months. There is no better time to turn over a new leaf than the present, and to fulfill exciting new resolutions by making a difference in a homeless child’s life through charitable giving and volunteer work. The Rescue Mission Youth Program does more than offer displaced children a safe place to play. We provide our children vital resources to succeed in school and to overcome obstacles that prevent them from doing their best in their personal aspirations.
For us to continue serving homeless children through out Pierce County, your support is crucial. One of the most frequent testimonies we hear from volunteers is how rewarding it is to impact a child’s life, and especially how much fun it is to play along with them during group activities. If you’re exploring exciting new investment opportunities and resolutions for 2011, consider investing in a homeless child’s future by making a small financial donation or by donating your time.
What we offer and How Our Children Benefit from Your Help:
- After School Program—Offers socially stimulating activities like our Super Club program, an art class, choir, and fun and games.
- Tutoring—More than just helping our children complete the required school assignments, our volunteers and Youth Coordinators work to ensure that each child has a good understanding of what the assignment expects, so they can move forward in their education without any confusion detracting them along the way.
- Mentoring—Volunteers serve as great role models for displaced children. Sometimes all a child needs is love and a little bit of guidance from a positive adult role model to shift his or her focus in the right direction toward a successful happy future!
- Field Trips—To reward our children for their teamwork and initiative to do well in school, we offer an array of field trip opportunities that volunteers are sometimes invited to chaperon. More recently, our teens visited the Seattle Art Museum to enjoy the Picasso exhibit. Other trips include snow shoeing in the mountains, family skate-night, and a trip to the Museum of Flight.
- Economis Program--Children are monitored by a point system that allows them to earn prizes in our youth store and the right to attend field trips, based on their performance in the After School Program. The objective of the program is to teach children responsibility and the rewards associated with hard work and leadership.
Nearly 1 in 4 homeless children will grow up to become homeless adults. If you love children and you care about fostering a positive atmosphere that prevents them from becoming a victim of “statistics” and the negative consequences that sometimes stigmatize homelessness, then please consider making a contribution today!