From Teen Intern to Doctor – Destroying Inequality

IMG_3563In June of 2013, I started my summer job as a teen intern for the Hilliard Free Summer Lunch Camp, which was a program that provided children facing poverty in our area with a nutritious breakfast and lunch during the long summer break. This helped spare their parents from worries of where to obtain their next meal and focus on their jobs to raise their family. The Hilliard City School District provides these children with free or reduced-fees for breakfast and lunch during the school year, but when the school year ends, the parents have to use their savings to feed them.

This program allows the parents to save their money so they can use the allowances for other bigger expenses instead. In addition, the children can be fed hearty meals instead of cheaper foods high in sodium, unhealthy fats, toxic chemicals, and refined carbohydrates.

Although I had so much fun with the children during the internship, I also became deeply concerned for their future. Whenever their parents were out working, the children must look for food on their own without the parents’ watchful eye. Children are probably not concerned with the nutrition facts on the labels, and they probably do not have shelves stocked full with whole-grain or protein-rich products since they tend to be on the more costly side. Junk foods like this are not only correlated with diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases, but they are also related to conditions such as ADHD, depression, and other behavioral problems. The parents are already stressed from financial troubles, so adding these physical and mental conditions on their plate could strain them beyond imaginable, not to mention the additional costs for providing medicine for the children’s illnesses (which is most definitely not cheap).

It made me furious that these children were developing the risk of preventable illnesses every day at their home, yet the parents could not do anything about it because they simply lacked the financial resources. The Free Summer Lunch Camp was an excellent way to nourish them with healthy meals, but I knew that there were millions of children out there still feeding themselves with toxic foods and growing in stressful homes.

According to statistics, an estimated 50 million Americans live in households that are unable to consume nutritious foods on a regular basis. This includes over 16 million children, so approximately 20% of American children go hungry at some point during the year. I know that the government is working to reduce these numbers, but clearly not enough work is being done. I decided that when I became a physician, I would devote my life in serving my community by saving children from risks of mental and physical diseases and helping reduce costs of healthcare fees to spare families of additional financial stress.

Speaking of healthcare, I think that it is ridiculous how wealthier homes are already in lower risk of developing disease, yet they receive much better healthcare than those less fortunate. America is leading the world charts when it comes to the most expensive healthcare per person. In addition, poverty is racist; minority groups tend to have higher numbers of  families facing poverty. I firmly believe that there is medical injustice in this country. In the future, I hope to use my platform to destroy this inequality.

When I was little, I always dreamed of becoming a successful surgeon and rolling around in my riches. However, the Free Lunch Summer Camp truly opened my eyes to reality, and I realized how foolish my old dreams were when I should have been thankful knowing how fortunate I was compared to millions of others drowning in debts. I want to use my career to teach families about nutrition and how to manage their money wisely to find the perfect balance in managing their expenses and making sure that their children are eating proper meals. However, this would be difficult without having the government step in to help with lower costs in healthcare and providing more welfare for these families. When I become a doctor, I hope to use my power to lift the financial and health troubles from those suffering day to day.

In the summer of 2015, I started shadowing Dr. Trevor at his dental clinic. At first, I simply expected to learn his daily routine at work and how to use his dental tools, but I learned something much more valuable. The most important lesson was how he treated each patient. I noticed how he always started a conversation with each patient because he knew that many were either scared or stressed when going to see their dentist, and he wanted to make the experience much easier for them. He also knew what signs to look out for because each patient had specific risks for tooth or gum disease. Because of Dr. Trevor, I learned that caring and empathy were values that would determine my true passion and reason for becoming a physician. I realized that doctor-to-patient interaction is one of the most important part in medicine when treating people. If a physician were to do his or her job with no empathy or a sense of looking out for the patient, he or she would have failed at the job. Medicine is not simply about biochemistry or technique. It is about giving your best interest to the patient in order to make the quality of his or her life the best that it can be.


Building Bright Futures

When you first arrive at UALC, the location for the Family ESL program at SON Ministries, you see all of the children lining up getting ready to go into the gym. A minute before start time, at about 5:59 pm, one of the green shirt workers lets the children into the gym.  All of the volunteers are setting up and getting ready for the doors to open. As soon as the doorsBrennanEdit open and you see all of those happy faces you know it’s going to be a fun night. Everyone runs into the gym to their preferred area. I personally choose to go to the 9 square where a lot of children choose to go. Everyone is in the gym or craft area for about 30 minutes. We then move to snack time. The children come into snack time one grade level at a time and find their preferred seat and begin to eat the generously donated snacks. At this point some of the teen interns will go up to the table and grab either the milk jugs or a pitcher of water. I always choose the water pitcher. A lot of the children now have started to call me “Waterboy” because I have been giving out water for about 2 years now. The name has stuck and I am called “Waterboy” no matter what the setting is now. I could be at school, at church, it doesn’t matter whenever I see one of the children from this organization that’s my name! I love it. It’s fun to see how my relationships have evolved with some of these children. 

After snack we move into academic support which lasts about 30 minutes.  Children that have homework from their day at school will bring it and get help if they don’t understand it. If the children don’t have homework they get the opportunity to read books as a group based on their grade level. This is the highlight of my night! I usually help the kindergarten reading group. I love seeing the children improve from week to week and actually get excited to read and learn new things as they discover their love for reading. It truly makes me feel good inside knowing that I’m doing something good for others and showing them how important it is to read.  After academic time we move into free play. During this time there is usually a fun game or activity that the leaders have planned. I have never had a night where all of the children didn’t enjoy playing these games whether it’s Mario Kart, balloon tag or wrapping kids in toilet paper to make mummies. There are also plenty of different crafts going on during this time if you’re not feeling up to the game.

As the evening comes to an end, at about 8:30 pm, parents will start to pick up their children and leave. These children are extremely special in all different areas and I truly enjoy spending each Tuesday and Thursday with them. There are some extremely talented children in this program and I can tell they will have a bright future ahead of them. They each have a special place in my heart and I love seeing them grow up before my own eyes. Everyone at SON Ministries is extremely nice and welcoming, I highly suggest coming and helping out if you’re looking to serve your community!


Why Your Snack Donation Matters

What if I told you that a snack could change a child’s life?

IMG_1023My name is Emma Gill and I am going on my 3rd year working at the Family ESL Program. Over the years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to spend time with the children who come to our program. Their smiling faces and positive energy never fail to brighten up my day. This year is my first year working in Kid’s Club, which is for children ages Kindergarten through the 8th grade. Kid’s Club is a positive, fun, and encouraging atmosphere.

At Kid’s Club, we seek to give our children all of the tools they need to thrive. Some of these tools include academic support, fun crafts to get their creative juices flowing, group games, and a snack. Although a snack might not seem all that important, a hunger survey given to our children revealed that many children show up to our program hungry. This being the case, we make it a goal at SON Ministries to feed our children a filling meal that leaves them feeling nourished and cared for. Because SON Ministries is a non-profit, we rely fully on the community to be our snack angels. I have been so touched by the generosity of individuals in the Hilliard community and beyond who have kindly donated sandwiches, milk, fruit, and so many other foods to our program. I am especially grateful to restaurants like Chick Fil A, which has donated literally hundreds of chicken sandwiches to our program over the past few months. It is an amazing feeling to know that our program and the community are working together to feed hundreds of hungry bellies every night at our program.

Sadly, we have nights where we do not have any snack angels. On these nights, we have to give the children peanut butter crackers and other non-perishable items to eat. While the children are grateful for this food too, it is not the kind of dinner you probably make for yourself in your home. That is why we need you to be a snack angel!

If you have ever wondered how you can make a difference in the world, this is it! Imagine how loved and cared for you would feel if every time you came to Kid’s Club you left feeling happy and healthy. For many of our children, a snack shows them that they are important and valued. The feeling of value leads to empowerment and empowerment fosters confidence. Confidence becomes ambition and ambition leads to determination. With determination, I believe that any child can accomplish their goals and change the world. So you see a snack is not just a snack, it is a way to change a child’s life for the better.

Will Never Forget You!

Charmi PatelI am a Teen Intern for Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries every Tuesday and Thursday, since early October. While being at Kids Club, I met so many amazing children and peers, which makes it the highlight of my week. In particular, there are these two children in which I have become really close with. Every time they come to Kids Club they are always in a positive attitude, and constant energy, which always improves my mood, leaving a smile on my face. Not just those two guys, but all of the children are laughing, smiling, and interacting with one another throughout the night. There are so many things to learn from the children. The most important thing I have learned in my short time is patience.

On a Thursday night I walked into the academic support room, and sat down at a random table. I started helping a few different children at one time, but there was this one guy that I really get close with that night. As I was helping him with his homework he sort of started singing a song from one of his favorite influences. Which also happened to be one of my favorite influences as well. We finally started talking about ourselves, while working through his homework. After that night every time he saw me at Kids Club he would always run up to me, and we would strike up a conversation. When we are talking and just goofing around time always goes by so quick. He just might be one of the only people that could say the exact same thing over and over again, and it still be funny every time. At the end of the night when the Teen Interns are cleaning up, he always somehow finds me. He never leaves the building without giving me a hug.

SON Ministries is a place of HOPE where families facing poverty can come together as one.

Contagious Positivity

Kids Club Teen Intern

Carolyn HalesI am a Teen Intern for SON Ministries and every Tuesday and Thursday since late October I’ve been volunteering at Kids Club and I’ve met some awesome children and people. Kids Club is the highlight of my week. In particular, there are two little girls who are sisters and I’ve become pretty close with them. Every time they come into Kids Club they run up to me and give me a big hug. Their positive attitude, imagination and constant energy always improves my mood instantly and leaves a smile on my face. The children are always laughing and playing and have so much to say. I learn a lot from them. They’ve taught me patience and love.

There are several other children that I’ve got to spend time with and I love hearing all about them and what they like to do for fun. I’ve gotten really close with many of them and we have our own inside jokes and I know their favorite games to play. I also love helping out during our reading groups which are a great way for the children to spend time enjoying a book and improve their listening skills simultaneously. I also volunteer at the Columbus Metropolitan Library as a reading buddy, so it’s really cool to see those go hand in hand. My goal in the future is to be an English teacher and volunteering at Kids Club helped me discover how much of a special place children hold in my heart.

I’ve noticed that since coming to Kids Club, my stress levels are lower and my happiness is higher than ever. Not only does SON Ministries benefit the children it serves, but it also benefits the teens who volunteer there as well. I’ve become really close with the guys and girls I volunteer with and I’ve made several new friendships through volunteering. Overall, I would recommend volunteering in general to anyone, but especially through Kids Club. It truly is something special and I’m so grateful that I get to be apart of it.

At SON Ministries, we build up COMMUNITY one respectful, empowering relationship at a time.

Laugh and Smile

Taylor Richardson

Middle School Leader

20171017_234838544_iOSI have been with SON Ministries going on three years now, being involved with both SON Ministries Summer Lunch Program and the Family ESL Program. I started working with SON Ministries when I was a sophomore in college and I am now a graduating senior. Working with SON Ministries has completely changed my life and my life’s direction over these past three years. On the first day, I walked into a gym filled with laughing and playing children and fell in love. Over the next three years I began to understand what my passion was and fell even more in love with each of the children. Through working with SON’s mission, I understood that I wanted to work with children to create a path for success and equity in every child’s life. This is what SON Ministries cultivates and pursues. With graduation approaching in two weeks I have accepted a position with Teach for America and will be in a classroom by next school year. I am excited for my first day to walk into a classroom and fall in love with those children. Every day that I come to work I see the life changing things that SON Ministries is doing for the families in our program, but reflecting over these past three years SON Ministries has been doing equally life changing things in my own life!

This year SON has created a program specifically designed for the middle school aged children that come nightly. The middle school aged children now have their own space and time to do activities and games that are age appropriate in hopes to retain our older children involved in the program. I have had the great pleasure to work with this group of children. We have done so many exciting things in the short 4 months that we have been together. We have carved pumpkins, cooked meals together, had movie nights, played some intense soccer competitions, and other exciting games!

IMG-4892.JPGMany of the children that come to our middle school group are the oldest sibling in their families and hold many responsibilities when they are at home. One of the middle school girls that comes nightly told me during our pumpkin carving night that she was having so much fun and she isn’t usually the one that gets to have fun, her younger sibling are the ones that get to have the fun at home. That was such an eye opening and special moment for me. This middle school program specifically is so important! These children all deserve to feel like children. They deserve to laugh and smile because they are just having FUN!

At SON Ministries, we build up COMMUNITY one respectful, empowering relationship at a time.

The Capacity to Serve

Lindsay Phoenix

Winter Wear – Children’s Coat Store Leadership Team

This was our family’s second year to help at the Winter Wear coat store.  While I was IMG_6229feeling like less of a novice and really looking forward to getting everything set up to host as many families as we could, it was my own kids who might have been even more excited about the upcoming Monday nights than I was!  They remembered from last year what it was like to organize, carry, sort, move, bake, and smile for these special guests who were coming to our church.  There’s no denying Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  While I have the words to articulate this verse and understand what a privilege it is to serve others, I loved watching the purity of heart with which my kids, and the other kids from our church group manifested this innate part of our hearts.  There’s no denying the way God satisfies our hearts when we give to others.  I’m so thankful for the verse right before Ephesians 2:10 that says, “For it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, ” and I’m so glad God has gifted us the capacity to serve.

I love being a part of Winter Wear in particular because of the way SON Ministries desires to preserve the dignity of the recipients of their services.  I think that’s what makes this such a great environment for our family to participate in.  There’s no chaos (except what my own 4 year old may be creating!), fear, or stigmas generated.  My kids watch people who look and sound the same and different from them be welcomed and embraced, and they find it easy to do the same.  They see kids who want to run around, find the perfect pink hat, and have a warm winter coat, just like they do.  I’m really thankful that SON Ministries has given our family this model to serve by, and that they have provided lots more kids in Hilliard the opportunity to hear “Put your coat on!” this winter.

At SON Ministries, we bring HOPE to children and families facing suburban poverty by connecting them to people, resources and a HAND-UP!

Will you forget me?

Marco Solis

Teen Intern

Marcos BlogI came on the last week of camp at HCC, I was ready to take out the trash with some other teens, as I walked outside a kid was sitting at one of the tables. I wanted to go see who he was, so I asked if my peers could take it out while I finished lunch with the kid. He was shy at first, but I kept talking to him and tried to know him. After a while he started to talk to me more than others. On Cypress Church was giving out shoes. Since I helped out with Taco Bell Jr., they gave me a pass to get shoes, I saw the child at the end of the line, confused. I asked him if he knew what was going on, he said “no”. I gave him my slip since he didn’t have time to fill one out. It took us around 30 mins but in those 30 mins I learned he likes the color blue.

On Thursday morning, he had to eat the late lunch because he was late to camp, while he was eating Trail Mix he saw it had Sunflower seeds inside so we decided to plat some just for fun and giggles. We were the only ones outside with two green shirts, as he finished eating we went inside, we had Raising Canes and watched a movie in the gym. All my friends were in a little group, I didn’t really care because we were telling jokes and not paying attention to the movie at all. Right after the movie it was close to the end of the day. I was getting a feeling in my chest, the same feeling right before you cry, the feeling that kind of hurts your chest a bit. I don’t know why I was feeling like this, maybe because he was the only friend that could make me feel like a child again, maybe the only kid that that could tell me the same jokes and it would still be funny after the 30th time. I knew sooner or later Friday would come along, we played soccer for a while.

He really loves Legos so we decided to build a house, we didn’t get very far, since it was the end of the day. Everybody had left the only people left were a couple of teens and adults. His mom came in the doors, we did our hand shake. I smiled so hard until…his mom told me they might move back to japan, my chest got the same feeling yet worse, my smile went away so fast I didn’t even notice. I bent down on my knees and asked him, “Will you forget me?” he smiled and said, “I won’t, because you signed your name on my shirt” I smiled and said, “Thank you”. We did our hand shake probably for the last time. As he left, the pain got worse and worse. Mr. Gage hugged me and asked if I wanted to ask for their email, I didn’t reply…all I could do at that point was cry, uncontrollably. I have never ridden my bike so slowly back home, as I walked into my room I told myself “my only regret is not asking for his mom’s email, and not giving him my hat”, he really did like my hat it was Batman, he really likes Batman like me. I’d like to thank SON Ministries for making this summer the best it could be.

At SON Ministries, people are our priority-RELATIONSHIPS are our goal!

Three Days at Camp

Jan Reichert

Teen Intern

As a Teen Intern, the Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries’ Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids has been a great experience for me as it has been an opportunity to not only get the volunteer hours needed for National Honors Society, but also to do what I love – working with children. I’m writing about the past three days (July 12 to July 14) as to me they have been the most eventful days of camp.

blog 2On July 12, the Hilliard Fire Department was kind enough to drive one of their emergency vehicles to the church and show the children everything inside. I thought this was an amazing experience for the children as they got to see what it is really like to be a firefighter, which some of the campers want to grow up and be. It was also a very fun day since they turned on the hose and let everyone run through the water. On Thursday, I got to see how “Taco Bell Jr.” desserts were made for the first time. It was a very fun experience to watch the kids work as a team to create the Oreo balls for their restaurant. It definitely helped them learn to work not only with each other but independently as well.

blog.jpgLastly on Friday, I was able to see one of the campers become an entrepreneur! She had decided to make and sell her own “slime” – an awesome idea. She let the younger kids play with it before buying it which was very generous of her. It was very cool to see someone so young decide to start their own business. Free play during the course of camp was also a favorite of mine, as all the kids are so creative in how they play games, and their drawings too. Anna decided to draw my name for me on a piece of paper – which I brought home and plan to keep. This camp was an amazing experience as I got to meet a lot of new people and spend time with kind and caring kids.

At SON Ministries, people our our priority-RELATIONSHIPS are our goal!

Never Feel Alone…

Jay Patel

Teen Intern

Resized_20170629_121633This summer I was new. This is my second year running in United States. I heard about this summer camp in Hilliard Davidson Morning summer news when school was closed in 15 days. That time I decide I want to do some fun and productive things. I filled out my application form and took interviewed with SON Ministries. Then I was good to go.

I was really nervous on first day of camp. Nobody knew me . But as time gone everybody knows me. I like to come in this camp. I am bored at home when camp is not on specific day. I ride bus with children to the camp I  meet the children in the bus and I got to know and build relationships with the children. Not only with bus riders from other children also I got to know them even though they are not come in my bus. I love to play with Kindergarten and 1st grade children. I do crafts and participate in every games and being a role model for them. Green shirts and Orange shirts are really nice and help me when I am in problem. Especially when I have trouble in speaking and understanding.

I love to drink chocolate milk , eat fruits and salads everyday. I love to play new games  like nine square and many other board games which I never played before. I was alone to come to this camp for 1 week. I encouraged my two brothers to joined this camp. They also like this  camp. one of my brother is blue shirt and one he just complete Kindergarten. This my little brother tells my family everyday what we are doing at this camp. He enjoying this camp every much. I got a chance to make a poster for Restaurant . It made me famous at whole camp. I alone made that poster at home. All was happy to see my poster. Mr. Art took some pictures and stick that poster in front door.  I was so happy that all like my poster.

On July 7,2017 I met a lady who work at Washington D.C. in White House with their team. It was my best thing ever I did in summer camp. She told her story to all of us. She is working in legislature and she visited 20 countries including my country India . She went to India for 1 week 15 days ago. She told her story about she just visited India  recently. It was a fabulous experience. (Editors Note: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty visited)

Another thing I had a chance to do lead an activity named Musical chair in brackets with little kids. For me it was hard kids wanted to do their stuff but after some time they contributed in my activity for 20 minutes . Altogether 3 orange shirts handle that activity. With that two volunteers I leaded my activity,  thanks a lot. I didn’t have that much to say but thank you SON Ministries for giving me an opportunity for volunteering. I am so happy to come at your camp and got to know many people from different cultures, countries , religions etc. I never see such a diverse place. Thanks also to staff that helped me and never feel me being alone.

At SON Ministries, we build up COMMUNITY one respectful, empowering relationship at a time.