Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our tutoring children took on a special benevolence project of their own during December. To encourage good behavior and focused work during tutoring sessions, these students earn checks based on their good behavior. On Thursdays students can turn in the checks for candy or small treats, or they can gradually save up their checks for larger prizes. Carrollton’s elders agreed to match each check that the students donated with $1 that would be given to Heifer International. During each tutoring session in December, the students learned something about the Heifer program—their process for helping families and the benefits of the various types of animals that are given to the families. We set a goal of 60 tickets, and children had the opportunity to donate some of their checks at the end of each day’s tutoring session. We surpassed our goal, and the students voted on the animal they wanted Heifer to purchase—rabbits! These donated checks represent a real gift from our students as it meant that they had less to spend on themselves. Despite the sacrifice of some candy or a toy (which was clearly the cause of some internal debates on some afternoons), the students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share in the Christmas spirit of giving.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

We had 53 children at our Christmas Party! This is the largest attendance we have ever had at one of our events, and does not even include the many teenagers who helped us out. We played games, decorated cookies, made crystal snowball ornaments, and heard the Nativity story by reading the children’s book The Night of Las Posadas. It was the first event that some of our children’s younger siblings attended, and it was exciting to begin meeting our future students. Many of our children’s families stayed at the church during the party to visit, listen to the Saints game, and help out (a real blessing with such a large group of children!).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Almost exactly 10 years ago, the Carrollton Avenue Church began a tutoring program for children in its New Orleans neighborhood. The congregation felt that if God had placed our building here, then our hearts should be further rooted here as well. The tutoring program was in many ways only a new way of doing something Carrollton has a long tradition of – loving and encouraging all who come through its doors. The tutoring program was simply a way to bring more people through those doors.

Ten years later God has brought dozens of children and their families through those doors and along with them hundreds of blessings. Each year I am surprised that the children who shyly (though never for long!) show up for that first day of tutoring in September have already become such valuable parts of our “family” by December.

The past few months have seen our transition from Kid City to Mid-City Ministries, an independent non-profit. In many ways this is simply a name change. We continue to partner with the Carrollton Avenue congregation. We meet in the same building—new and improved since 2005 due to some levee- breaks and the astounding generosity of volunteers and other supporters across the nation—and are running the same programs, with the same staff (that’s lucky me!). Our new status, however, allows us the opportunity to seek new sources of funding. This will ease Carrollton’s financial burdens, allowing it to better focus on its mission in our neighborhood while giving us new opportunities to expand our programs and better serve our children and their families.

I feel continually privileged to be a part of Mid-City Ministries-- to see our children growing academically, spiritually and emotionally and to see the love our volunteers show for our children through the sacrifice of time and other resources. While I am new to the world of blogging, and quite honestly, a little leery of it, I hope that this can be a medium to share the excitement, frustrations, and joy of seeing God work in Mid-City New Orleans.