The Agape Center, host of the local S.A.Y. Yes! Center for Youth Development® is a community staple in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. With the start of a new school year, children from the area will find not only homework help, but role models, snacks, and the loving care of mentors and volunteers — some of whom are Cru® Inner City staff. The care and concern for kids doesn’t end over summer vacation, though. The Center recently finished its annual Summer Day Camp and this year was a testament to the power of consistent, relational ministry to change lives for the long-haul!
Dozens of calls from parents, hopeful their children can participate, demonstrate it’s a popular place! The Summer Day Camp offers a month packed with activity to keep kids in a safe and loving environment while also sharing the gospel. The kids play games, construct creative crafts, have Bible lessons, sing songs, and much more! It’s a full and impactful time. How do we know its impact?
A few of the summer volunteers are proof… Jessica, Rob and Mrs. June.
Jessica is a college student who led one of the six teams that helped make the summer camp possible. She was familiar with the camp, she’d been part of it herself when she was in elementary school. She became a Servant Youth Leader, a role reserved for junior high schoolers, then eventually in high school she advanced to become a team leader. After her first year at college, Jessica still returned for the camp. She said she comes back because it holds a special place in her heart, with memories of truly beginning to know Jesus while enjoying the safety of the Agape Center and the loving care of its volunteers.
Rob helped out this year and was a former camper himself! He grew up and went to school in the neighborhood, attending S.A.Y. Yes!® at the Agape Center through high school. He graduated college this past spring, and begins his career as an elementary teacher this school year. This summer, Rob served as a team leader for the older kids. He’s a great example for neighborhood kids, especially the boys. It’s easy for the young men in the community to get caught up in gangs and the violence that comes with them, so it’s important to have someone from the neighborhood who’s learned to make different, God-honoring choices as a role model.
Lastly, the arts and crafts leader, Mrs. June, also has a history with the Agape Center! It stretches back even farther. She was one of the first disciples of Cru staff member, Cynthia. June was teen when she got involved with the center. Now she’s a wife, mother, and quilter. Cynthia said June was in her element, teaching the kids how to create with needle and thread – something they’d never encountered before.
The camp ended with a special event; the program! In it, kids performed praise dances, skits, and shared Bible verses they knew by heart, all for the largest crowd of family and friends the camp has seen yet! This annual event makes it possible for the kids’ families to hear the gospel as well!
Alicia Losier serves as the Communications Specialist for Cru's inner-city ministry.
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