Somehow we blinked, and it was December. You’ve probably been saying to yourself, “Why isn’t SCYM following their usual pace of blog posts about kids in Springfield, that I’ve grown to enjoy so much?” No doubt as you settle in with a cup of good coffee, maybe a peppermint mocha, and click our URL to check the latest news, it’s been a sad and disappointing experience.
OK, OK, you haven’t done any of those things. You had no idea that we were backlogged on blogging (backblogged?) until just now. For that matter, we’re backed up on email newsletters too, although there’s no catchy word for that.
But there’s a cool story about why we’re backblogged. Now would be a good time to grab that mocha, and settle in for a good read.
In mid-to-late August, Springfield kids go back to school. You see them traipsing around in the morning and afternoon, with their backpacks, maybe getting on the bus. For SCYM, August is ramp-up time – getting flyers out to families and schools, recruiting new and returning volunteers, planning schedules for the semester, talking with church partners, and gearing up for the start of four afterschool programs at twelve sites – one of which was new. By mid-September, STARS, GirlPower, Manpower, and Biz Ba$ics were ready to go.
Let’s pause right here. To be honest, we never know what’s going to happen next. We don’t know which kids are going to return or sign up for the first time, whether we’ll have exactly the number of volunteers we have on the right days, or exactly how it’s all going to work out. You get everything ready, you do the work, you pray a lot, and then you wait and see what happens.
Unpause. Here’s what happened next: We had an influx of kids, new and returning. A deluge, a flood, an overflow. (Thanks, thesaurus.com.) We broke every record for enrollment at every program, if we were keeping track. We had to split one of our sites into two groups so that we didn’t have to turn away 20 kids.
You may have already seen this chart in our newsletter, but this is what the last three years have looked like for SCYM afterschool programming (not counting Camp Boost, mentoring, or Wise Guys):
But here’s the thing. Even though this chart tells a great story that’s got us giving thanks to God, serving in an afterschool program doesn’t look like a chart. It looks like this:
That number 234? That’s 234 faces, 234 Springfield kids who have names and families and stories. 234 Springfield kids who have a safe place after school, someone who knows them and loves them, new opportunities, and stronger relationships. And hope. Most of all, hope.
Some of these 234 have experienced enormous obstacles – a parent who’s addicted or in prison, homelessness, violence on their street. Some are struggling. Some are doing OK. All of them need a friend.
We are grateful for each and every one of our kids, and for every volunteer and donor and cheerleader and partner who is on the team to serve them.
All together, we’ve served 581 Springfield kids together in 2016 – more than any year since we started in 1998. That’s WE – you, SCYM volunteers, staff, and everyone who’s rallied around these kids with the belief that they matter.
So maybe you’ve already finished that coffee. Thanks for reading the story of Fall 2016, what we now call “Growth Spurt Fall.” There’ve been more than a few growing pains: We’ve had to scramble for drivers, and make a lot of appeals for new volunteers. Our staff and volunteers have stretched more than we probably would have liked. But we hope you give thanks to God with us for the growth.
Because we don’t doubt for a second that these kids are worth it.