I got a job! Yes, I just completed my third week at Streets Ministries and i LOVE it! Can you believe it?? I am the Development Coordinator which means that I am the Grant Writer/Volunteer Coordinator. I write people for money while still being an extrovert, speaking to Sunday schools, churches, and other gatherings(eventually) to recruit volunteers and then I train and place them.
Streets is a ministry for underprivelaged Memphis kids living in the Foote and Cleaborn homes (the downtown housing projects), which make up the zip code 38126--the third poorest in the U.S. We have a 4.2 million dollar facility in which there is a gym, computer lab, multi-purpose "club" room, playstation room, etc. The kids come in after school and have a safe place to chill while also being encouraged to take advantage of the amazing programs. Seriously, they're amazing. We have "clubs," tournaments, parties, tutors, etc. but my favorite is Pathways. Pathways is one of the programs that I will be recruiting for. It is where an adult (college aged or older, seems like empty nesters are the best) is paired with a student (7-12 grade) whose GPA is a 2.5 or higher. The goal is to pair them up while the student is in 7th grade and the requirement is a 1 hour tutoring session per week. The goal of this program is to build a long term relationship between the two. For example, there was a girl who began this program 15 years ago as a 7th grader and was paired with a 23 year old. They began their relationship as tutor/tutored and it developed into the mentor buying clothes for the girl to have her first interview, joining her and her husband on family vacations, helping her get into college, moving her into the dorm, being at college graduation, etc. Eventually this girl went on to get her masters in social work and now works as a social worker back in the middle school that she went to, and the middle school that Streets ministers to. AMAZING! I was able to meet with this gal last week and hear her testimony...wow!
The projects are such a mess, the politics are insane, the morals engrained into the culture are horrid (try having hardly any fathers in a neigborhood), the gangs are violent, the families are falling apart or non-existant and God is in the middle of this! I have learned so much from these kids and the indigenous staff already. It is so humbling. I called my mom crying the first week, thanking her for reading to me as a kid.....I feel like such a brat watching these kids who have nothing hold their heads high without whining.
I'm sure I'll be telling more stories along the way, but know that I am being knocked on my butt again by God and this Jesus who was knocked to death so He and I could have a wedding one day.