Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Day Camp Hands On Math Program

       This summer I had the privilege of completing my Girl Scout Gold Award under the direction of Lilli Curtis and Suzanne Dwight.  For my project I created a curriculum of math games and activities for the Summer Day Camp program.  I first had this idea when I worked with the Summer Visiting Youth Program during Community Ministries Week.  Throughout that week I noticed that there were multiple reading classes, which were increasing the students’ reading skills.  However, they were still struggling with basic math, but there was no math class.  When I approached Suzanne and Lilli with my project proposal they were excited and very willing to fit it into the new math classroom Lilli created. 
The major portion of my project was creating a curriculum of hands-on math games and a way to test how the games improved the children’s math skills throughout the summer.  The curriculum included a pretest, a post-test, and six math games for each grade - first through fourth.  For six weeks I volunteered each Monday and Wednesday in the computer classroom where I lead the first through fourth grade classes in the hands-on math games.  The games focused on basic math facts, time skills, and money skills.  While playing the games, the children also learned social skills including taking turns, communicating desires, and building friendships. 
The matching games were by far the children’s favorites.  The last day of day camp I let the students vote on their favorite game to determine what game they would play.  Each grade voted for one of the three matching games.  The kids also enjoyed the time relay race.  They were always full of energy, so they loved being able to run up and down the hall.  Combining physical activity with math questions created a more enjoyable learning environment. 
       The best part of my project was the interaction with the students.  I could not have asked for a better group of students. The children were open to new ideas and, new volunteers.  I had no idea what to expect the first week I volunteered.  The children were so welcoming and had the biggest smiles on their faces.  I also appreciate all the parents and church staff who came and supported the program the last two day during the open house.  This program would not be possible without their love and support. 

By:  Allison Brockette

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Volunteer's Point of View

Serving Our King

In Matthew 25:35-36, Jesus describes righteous service to our King:

I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

About a year and a half ago, I was studying that scripture during the holidays. I desperately wanted to know what that kind of service looked like in my life. Who did the Lord want me to feed?  Who did the Lord want me to clothe? During that study, I noticed a flyer hanging in my office break room. The Stewpot needed shoebox care packages for the homeless. "Start there," I heard the Spirit prompt me. 

After gathering shoeboxes from friends and family, and I headed to the Stewpot to drop them off. I recognized the Stewpot immediately. It was the scary building that I avoided. Why did so many homeless people gather there?  I didn't know, and I didn't plan to find out. I waited at the side door hoping someone would see me and take my shoeboxes. Someone did. Betty Heckman invited me in. I tried to just give her my shoeboxes, but she immediately started giving me a tour. She described the dental service, the medical service, the ID service, the voicemail service, and many other services. She introduced me to various Stewpot volunteers and employees. As we walked, I heard the Spirit's voice: "Look around! This is what it looks like. I live here."

I left the Stewpot with a clearer vision of my service to the King. I wanted to serve at the Stewpot, but what I could do? My answer came the next morning. I opened the Dallas Morning News and saw an article describing the Stewpot's representative payee program. Many homeless people are eligible for Social Security benefits, but Social Security often requires a disabled person to have a representative payee. The representative helps the disabled client manage their benefits. With the help of volunteers, the Stewpot acts as a representative payee for many clients. Volunteers meet with clients every week to discuss the client's budget and financial needs. Perfect, I thought. As an accountant and lawyer, that job suited me perfectly. A few months later, I met my first Stewpot client.

My favorite part of working at the Stewpot has been getting to know the clients. I've learned that it is difficult to help someone manage their money if you do not know them. My first client, for example, had recently emerged from a decade-long alcoholic haze. During that haze, he lost contact with his daughter. He had not spoken to her in years. He thought about her often and wanted to repair his relationship with her. Because I knew how important his daughter was, I encouraged my client to visit her.  We prepared a budget for the trip, and he visited. He returned from that trip with a new sense of joy. His daughter had graciously accepted him back into her life.

My time with payee-rep clients has taught me that the people lined up outside the Stewpot are not scary hoodlums that I should avoid. They are kings. Our King lives in them. He calls us to serve Him through them.