Whew. Let me take a minute to introduce myself and my organization. I’m Ryan Max, a student at Miami University, and this Summer I am working as the Program Coordinator for SON Ministries’ Hilliard Free Summer Lunch for Kids. In a nutshell, we provide a healthy breakfast and lunch to the children in the Hilliard area that receive a free or reduced lunch during the school year. My first week here has shattered that nutshell. This is about so much more.
“People are our priority, relationships our goal.” I’ve heard this phrase many times in my first week, and it sounds like a fine mantra. But it is much more meaningful when I can see the way the camps exemplify this firsthand. We’re trying to build a community environment that many of the children we serve do not get to experience outside of the four hours they spend at our “Summer Camp”.
In my role as Program Coordinator I travel to three of the Hilliard lunch sites throughout the week, spending a day or two helping implement programming at each before moving on to a different group of kids and a different set of staff. In five days, it’s incredible to see how strong the sense of community has already been developed at the sites. Each site has its own personality and its own rhythm.
Norwich Township Fire Department visits a Hilliard Free Summer Lunch for Kids site
Every day is a whirlwind of games, art, science and food; a delicate balance of planning and chaos. Basketball, jump rope, water guns, parachutes, fire trucks, kites, Soccer games, Dodgeball, homemade flags, daily skits, board games, books, gardens, restaurant planning, dozens of volunteers, hundreds of kids.
I don’t think anything could sum up the passion and goal of SON Ministries and the Summer Lunch program better than the call and response that I witnessed at one of our lunch sites this week.
Site Leader: “What’s my job?”
Children: “To love us!”
Site Leader: “And what’s your job?”
Children: “To love each other!”
That’s the new nutshell.
by Ryan Max, Columbus Foundation Summer Fellow