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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 . . . . firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
According to a recent report in the News Tribune, a staggering number of school children through out Washington State identify as homeless. We need your help! To put that into perspective, that’s:
- 420,000 little fingers and toes forced to survive the frigid winter temperatures by either living in parked cars, displaced from stability by shifting from relative to relative’s homes, or even worse—living on the street.
- Such a large number would fill approx 21 high schools respectively.
- This is also enough little people to fill about 1/3 of Quest Field. Add their parents and other relatives to the mix, and the homeless population would likely fill over into Safeco field.
With the recent budget cuts needed to make room for the state deficit, ending critical services in healthcare and education in Washington State will likely take away jobs, only causing that number to increase.
While non-profit organizations like the Rescue Mission offer services to save our homeless residents from surviving such wearisome conditions, there are just not enough resources to help everyone in need. Because of the bleak economy your help is needed now more than ever.
Many school children rely on reduced or free lunch as the only balanced meal they may receive during an entire weekday. One has to wonder what they survive on during the weekends. We want to expand our capabilities to get more children off the streets in Pierce County and to help their families rehabilitate into self-sufficiency, but we can’t do it without your help! Please consider making a small donation to the Rescue Mission today! $1.87 will not only provide a child a warm meal, it will also offer families a second chance at independence.
At the Adams Street Family Campus Christmas party our parents were nurturing their children, taking Santa photos together, decorating cookies, and helping each other’s kids along as they danced around the cakewalk—just as any mommy or daddy does. The room glistened—not only with bright holidays lights, but with the sparkle in every parents’ eyes as they watched their little ones cuddle up to Santa to see what he had waiting for them in his big red sack.
Homeless parents love their children just as any parent does. It’s important to end the misconception that homeless children need to be saved from their parents for putting them in such dire circumstances. It’s not a question of whether most homeless parents love and want to care for their children, it’s a matter of the resources they have available to them.
When I was decorating the facility earlier that day, one of our dads approached me to say hello. He turned out to be a former colleague of one of my close relatives. He is reputed for being a hard worker, honest, compassionate, and he thinks the world of his children. He said, “you know, I was so ashamed to come here. I was so embarrassed that after caring for my family on my own for so long, I finally had to ask for help.” I reassured him that sometimes asking for help through resources like the Rescue Mission is the right thing to do to provide better stability for his family in the long run.
Like this individual, many of our homeless parents come to us, because they are out of options. With the help of our donors, many of them are on the right track to building their futures so they can better provide for their children. I want to close this blog by thanking our donors for supporting us, and our parents for putting their children’s needs as priority above their own. By swallowing their pride and asking for help they truly are giving their children a better chance at a stable future. God bless you all, I wish great success and happiness for every one of you! You SHOULD be proud that you made the right choice to better your families.
Promoting the health and wellness of disadvantaged children seems like an easy sell, but it’s much more complicated to others in the community that may not understand the essentials that come along with such an awesome responsibility.
Comprised in today’s education system is a priority to educate children and to promote critical thinking so that they have the vital components necessary to become independent adults. Each public education entity includes a sports program, an art class, and sex education. When children attend yearly field trips, they visit science centers, zoos, and wildlife reserves to expand their knowledge in different fields of science. While all these tools are vital resources to promote cognitive development and a greater appreciation for how the world works, little is being done to encourage the importance of philanthropy in the community.
Rarely do you see a push for children to reach out and learn more in areas where their community needs them most. By implementing a greater awareness of community activism while they’re young, children will grow up to be more educated and compassionate about the circumstances behind non-profit leadership. Instead of seeing homelessness as a disease, they will be hardwired with the compassion to promote positive changes, and to break the stereotypes that stigmatize poverty.
One can argue that activism is not a vital necessity of the public education system and that it’s parents’ responsibility to teach children how to become involved in the community. While this is a good point, a person can also rhetorically question with equal support why stressing the importance of sex education in schools is so important, but not philanthropy?
Children are impressionable while they’re young and are in a great position to change the future of leadership in America. By teaching them to care, they will likely have deeper core values toward all socioeconomic backgrounds in their community, and will have a better appreciation for preserving vital non-profit programs like the Rescue Mission.