In Town Mission Week w/PHPC Jr High
Last week, a group of junior high youth partnered with mission agencies around Dallas to share Christ’s love through kindness. Each day, 15 youth worked with a different ministry each focusing on a different area of need. We also paired each service project with different scripture passages we discussed at the end of each day. Our youth grew closer as friends and connected their faith with service. We asked our middle schoolers to write about their experiences which you can read below.
Day 1 – To Be Like Me and Epiphany
by Maddie Burge, Caitlin Howard, Jessie Moran, Ella Wilkinson
Monday of Junior High Mission Week began with an opportunity to learn about To Be Like Me from founder Hollis Owens and spent time replanting PHPC's Epiphany Disability Ministry's garden. To Be Like Me is an organization designed to inform the public about people with differing abilities and learning differences. Individuals with differing abilities lead these discussions, answer all questions, and share their personal stories of overcoming challenges or developing their faith. We spoke to 3 Leaders, T.J., Kathleen, and Robin.
T.J. is deaf and uses cochlear implants, but he doesn't let this hold him back from achieving his dreams. He enjoys cooking and technology. T.J. wishes to be on a cooking show one day to show the world how to make his mom's famous pot roast!
Kathleen has Williams Syndrome, a very rare chromosomal disability. She enjoys educating others about her syndrome and how it can impact people's lives. Besides participating in To Be Like Me programs and teaching, she enjoys cooking, dancing, acting, and exercising. She is a strong, intelligent woman who always wears a smile.
Robin was a kindergarten teacher when her life changed after falling from a tree. She suffered an injury to her spinal cord, which resulted in her losing the ability to move her legs. She says that she never thought of it as a bad change because she always had faith in God and her accident brought her closer to God. She now operates a high-tech wheelchair that is super cool (and pretty fast)! She is a great role model and shows us all that being different is a gift that should be shared.
After visiting with the To Be Like Me Leaders, we went to the church garden belonging to the Epiphany Disability Ministry. We met two PHPC volunteer leaders who explained that the "creepy crawlies" in the plants were good! We took the weeds out, put newspaper in the garden, put soil on top, and planted new flowers. In addition, we learned about the weeds, how to pick them, and how they affect the garden.
The purpose of the Epiphany Garden is for members of PHPC's Epiphany Disability Ministry to interact with the world around them. We enjoyed learning about how much the Epiphany participants and volunteers love the garden, and we were serving to show value and respect for the Epiphany members and something they love. Another reason we volunteered in the garden is so we can also learn how to work with plants and show our love of nature.
Day 2 – Stewpot
Written by David Bolle, Emily McLeroy, and Arianna Volluz
On Tuesday after VBS, Junior High students took a trip to Stewpot. Stewpot is an organization that works to help the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless in many different ways. Some of the things Stewpot does is provide food, clothing, mental health and medical services, and art therapy. They also help clients get housing and new I.D.s.
When we went to Stewpot, we started by taking a tour and then helped to create hygiene kits. During the tour, we saw an art studio, a facility for food distribution, a clothing closet, and medical offices. After the tour, we watched a video about how Stewpot helps clients receive services that make a huge difference in their lives.
One way we can help Stewpot is by collecting unopened travel-size toiletries from hotel stays or purchasing them in stores. We will keep a collection box in the Youth House for these toiletry donations. We hope you will help us provide these items for the clients at Stewpot!
Day 3 – Redeemed Women
Written by Thomas Martinelli, Ethan Welch, and Henry Zsohar
Redeemed Women is an organization in south Dallas located in an impoverished neighborhood with little resources. Chocolate, the woman who started this organization, noticed that women in her neighborhood needed extra help, so she decided to create a safe place where women and children can access food, a computer lab, and other resources. While there, we helped beautify the facility by painting the back porch, cleaning the building, washing Van-na white, and making snack bags. We loved helping create a more inviting and warm environment for those in need!
Day 4 – ACT
Written by Laney Griffin and Vivian Rahe
On Day 4 of Junior High Mission week, we partnered with ACT. ACT is a nonprofit that works to make safe neighborhoods a reality for everyone through community advocacy and legal support. After learning about how feeling safe is a necessity for people in all neighborhoods in Dallas, this includes keeping the neighborhood clean and put together. So we went to work, we picked up trash in an empty lot and mowed the grass. This area had a mural recently painted on a wall that had previously been covered with graffiti. By cleaning up this lot, we are helping make the neighborhood safer and providing a place where people can gather and play.
Day 5 – McShan Summer Reading Academy
Written by Gage Martinelli and Eli Thorne
The Junior High Mission Week project for today was at McShan Elementary School in Vickery Meadow. McShan is a unique elementary school because most of its students are refugees or immigrants from countries, they with their families used to live in harmful situations and needed to escape so they moved to Texas. They want to stay in America so they can avoid dangerous and unsafe situations in their home countries.
We helped the McShan Summer Reading Academy prepare for summer school where students will learn to read, write, speak, and understand English. We hope our work helps the teachers and volunteer tutors get ready and relieves some stress for the upcoming sessions.