On August 18, one of our STARS students, a 9-year-old boy named Collin Jenkins, drowned while swimming in Buck Creek with his brothers. Collin and his brothers have been part of our STARS Afterschool Program at Westside for the past several years. Here are a few memories and reflections of Collin from Tyler Worley. (Below: Collin, on the left, and another STARS student show a craft they made.)
When Collin first joined us at the STARS program, we had zero relationship. Collin interacted with the other kids well enough but he wanted nothing to do with me. Collin also wanted nothing to do with following our nice neat STARS schedule. He had his own plan and own agenda. This went on for a few months and things were really not going well for him or the rest of the STARS team. I was left with only two options, either send him packing or figure out how prove to Collin that I was a friend he could trust.
My utility belt full of tools that I relied on to help me build relationships with tough kids was about tapped out. Finally, in a last ditch effort on one of our most trying days, I approached him with an offer. Collin thought this offer was going to be punishment for his behavior and he looked intensely at me with eyes that said, “I eat consequences for breakfast!”
Instead of the lengthy lecture he expected, I asked him if I could draw him a picture. Collin’s expression instantly changed at my request and with a little more more discussion we decided on what I would draw for him. Drawing pictures happens to be something the Lord has gifted me with and normally I would have just sketched something out on the spot, but in this case I decided to make it a take-home project and really give it my full attention. The next day at the office I finished the picture in full color and was happy with how it turned out. Later that day I presented it to Collin at STARS and when he saw it he glanced a smile back to me.
That was the first time Collin had ever looked at me and smiled.
At the time I didn’t realize how much this was a turning point in our relationship. As time went on the Lord gave me more opportunities to connect with Collin, like the time I helped him take out some links in his new watch that was way too big. Or teaching him how to do push ups, sit ups, and other exercises after he did his homework because he said he wanted to become a UFC fighter when he grew up.
The night of Collin’s tragic death I was over at his house talking with his mom and grandma and I found out how much the times between him and me really meant. I found out that the picture I had drawn him went up on the wall beside his bed and whenever anyone would stop by the house he insisted that they stop in his room to see his drawing. The watch that I thought would be broken or lost by the end of the week is still here even though Collin has passed on. The training that we did together after homework would now prove to be the only UFC training he would have time to do. I’m thankful for Collin’s friendship and the impact he has made on my life.
I am now stronger and more impassioned than ever to see to it that all of the ones that have been entrusted to my care have every opportunity possible to know and experience the hope and love that Jesus Christ has made known to me.
We thank God for everyone in our community, from Westside Christian Community to the volunteers to the people who give and pray, for the friendships that are being built in Jesus’ name all around Springfield.
Tyler Worley, Associate Director