Sometimes I struggle with how to paint a verbal picture for you of what I hear and see every day at SCYM. There are little moments that happen in ordinary spaces with ordinary people, and stories that unfold over a long haul, that you know are eternally significant because hope has entered.
At SCYM we served a record 450 kids this year! But if I could just introduce you to one, it would be “James.”
James is a polite Springfield 6th grader with a great smile. He and his three younger brothers are being raised by their grandma, “Grace.” All of the boys’ parents have been to prison. Grace and the boys live in a small apartment in a housing project. She drives a car that works intermittently. Grace struggles with chronic health problems and spends what energy she has trying to keep things stable for the boys.
But this isn’t a story about hardship. It’s a story about hope, and a story about the difference the Church can make.
Last year, Grace got a mailing about a free afterschool program called STARS at a church near their apartment. She promptly signed the two oldest boys up. At STARS, James and his brother found a safe, warm, welcoming place full of caring people. James got help with reading, would play ping-pong or pool with a leader, and eat a hot meal before going home. He built trusting relationships. And week after week at STARS, he and his brother heard about, and responded to, Jesus’ love for them and hope for their lives.
In the spring, SCYM staff asked James if he would like a mentor who would spend time with him every week after school, in addition to STARS. James and Grace both said yes! He and his mentor, “Ron,” started meeting every week to shoot hoops, throw a football, or just talk. James quickly came to trust Ron, and seven months later, they’ve built a great bond.
There’s a whole lot more to tell: A week at Camp Boost Summer Reading Clubs. For James, a summer basketball camp and arts program that he wouldn’t have attended without help from SCYM. For his younger brothers, two Kids Hope mentors at school this year because of contacts our staff made. And James and his family now often attend the church where STARS meets.
The “after” in James’ story is not that things are suddenly easier. The “after” is that there are now many people surrounding James and his family, who are speaking hope into their lives, and who will be there for the long haul. In fact, the people I described who’ve invested in James and his brothers this year represent four different Springfield churches. FOUR! Now that’s the Church!
When you give to SCYM, you give hope to James! You’re putting people in his life who offer stability and friendship. You’re giving his family support and safety. You’re bringing them the powerful love and truth of God.
Let me be very transparent with you for a moment. In the last two years, through new opportunities that God has opened and through people who have gotten involved, SCYM has gone from serving 250 kids to 450 this year. That’s an 80% increase in impact in two years! The second half of that reality is that our capacity is stretched thin. In the same two-year period, our budget has increased 15%. As a leader, I believe the next, wise thing to do is to bring those two numbers closer together. That means asking a little more boldly!
In order to make sure that we are serving James and all of the kids God brings us with the care and attention they deserve, our staff and board is seeking to raise $17,000 from individuals in the remaining weeks of 2013. For some, that may be a generous year-end gift; for some it may be a monthly gift in 2014; or whatever else God may be nudging you to do.
It’s with a picture of James in my mind that I pose this question: As 2013 closes, would you partner with SCYM to give hope to one? You can make a secure donation or find out how to give by mail here on our website. Your gift brings the hope of Immanuel to our community!
With great hope,