Monthly Archives: July 2014

It’s a Carnival

By Bashia Price

AmeriCorps VISTA with SON Ministries

Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp


relc carnival 2Relc carnival 1relc carnival 3

Last night was another first for me as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries. I was able to experience their end of the summer Family Night for two of the sites combined.

This year’s event was a carnival and it was fantastic!

The church was covered in streamers and balloons; there was fresh, buttery, popcorn, face painting, and tons of carnival games!   Many teen and adult volunteers helped.   It was definitely the place to be!

Besides all of the wonderful activities going on, I would have to say the best part of the night was the strong sense of community.

The summer staff and volunteers at SON Ministries did any amazing job putting the entire event together. But more than that, they have spent the entire summer cultivating and developing relationships with the people they serve. And it showed:  126 people came out to enjoy the carnival. It was so awesome to see so many different cultures interacting with one another. One family with young children even walked a long, long way to be able to attend.  

The volunteers and staff at SON Ministries have truly created something special here in Hilliard.

Here at SON Ministries, we build up community, one respectful, empowering relationship at a time. 

Amazing Volun-Teens!

By Alison Gessner Rooney

Director of Programs

Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries


 At the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids 2014 we have a crew of amazing Teen Interns, “Orange Shirts” who help us daily on site with the children. 

The Interns are high energy and LOVE playing with the children. They are a HUGE support to our small but mighty paid staff – “Green Shirts”. The teens have made a FOUR WEEK commitment this summer to SON Ministries and the work we are doing in the community.

Our Teen Interns are busy people – they are musicians, athletes and church and community citizens. Yet, they make the time to be part of this summer program, feeding and enriching the lives of children in need while school is not in session.

Many teens who have come to the program to drop off their younger siblings as campers, we have also invited to be Teen Interns with us – and are now proudly wearing the Orange Shirt, working hard, having fun and giving back to their community.

How empowering for Teens to learn for life that by working together THEY CAN MAKE CHANGE and be part of an effort to build up their community and make it stronger!

We all know that teenagers are the future of this community and we at SON Ministries and the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids are blessed to partner with so many teens this summer – pouring into them, coaching them, training them and encouraging them to shine their LIGHT brightly.

Teens recently shared with us:

This experience showed me that even small things that I do can make an impact on the community.

I learned that I don’t have it as rough as I think I do.

I am now strongly considering becoming a teacher.

Sometimes you have to make others happy and help others in order to make yourself feel good.

I learned to get along with everyone (different cultures) and be responsible.

I’m more aware of some family situations here in Hilliard and I want to help more.

I am not as quick to judge because I never know what someone is going through.


May God bless and use this experience and the seeds planted in these teens’ lives this summer both now and into the future…


At Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries, through partnerships, we strive together for the very best for our community.

Taco Bell Jr. – Year 3- is again a big Success!

July 23, 2014

Natalie Trubiano,

Assistant Site Leader

 Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids 2014


Taco Bell Jr., a child-run DREAM of a restaurant at our Hilliard Church of Christ site is well underway.   The restaurant is in summer number THREE  and has been nothing but a success! The kids have been working very hard all summer to make the Mexican themed restaurant such a big hit in the Hilliard community. Monday through Thursday the campers plan the menu, work with a budget, make the decorations, prepare the food.  The campers truly work as a team by assigning tasks and jobs to each other in order to get everything accomplished.

TBJ little girl serverOne of the returning campers who has had previous years of experience with the event, has taken on the role of manager.  He makes sure that everyone has a part in the restaurant process, whether it is preparing some of the food at home, creating signs and streamers or practicing taking orders from adults. 

Another camper showed such enthusiasm and compassion for this kid-run restaurant.  She rallied a group of young girls to make beautifully colorful flowers out of her own tissue paper that she went out and bought! 

The restaurant has been running smoothly and serving community members as guests for the entire summer. Guests have included Cameron Mitchell and the Mayor of Hilliard and his wife. 

It is a bittersweet feeling to know that this child-run restaurant will soon close again for the summer. But we can’t wait to see what next summer will bring!

At SON Ministries, we are inspired by the UNEXPECTED!


Boot Camp

 By Natalie Trubiano

Assistant Site Leader

Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids 


Today at Hilliard Church of Christ, the older children in our program were surprised when they walked into a military boot camp setting – minus the weapons of course!  The kids weren’t aware that one of our adult volunteers, Heath Flowers, is a member of Boot Campthe ROTC at OSU.  So, they were shocked when they saw Mr. Heath in military apparel with a full set of drills waiting for them to do.  It was such a fun and funny experience for these children to push themselves, as well as the other kids beyond their limits.  They were given orders, had to learn basic drills and participated in a few different military-like obstacle courses – including a relay-style race to put on a full set of fatigues, run to the other end of the gym, do ten pushups and ten jumping backs and return to the next person in line!

 All of the older campers were being such good sports and respected Mr. Heath, as he gave them orders.  Even our Assistant Site Leader, Mr. Evan, borrowed and wore a set of fatigues from his uncle! During the entire timespan, the children were again learning respect and the importance of teamwork.  So, it was really exciting to witness all of the kids cheering for one another and making chants out of each other’s’ names.  This was the type of experience that I believe really makes an impact on the children in our program throughout the summer.   

At SON Ministries’ we know our volunteers each have their own passions, knowledge and experience to share – to enrich our program and the lives of the children we serve.   We love to invite them to share their experience and passions with the children.

I look forward to continuing to encourage Mr. Heath to use his military knowledge and creative ideas for future activities for the children in our programs.

At SON Ministries, through PARTNERSHIPS, we strive together for the BEST for our community.


A Collaborative Approach

By Tristan Wonycott

Site Leader

Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids 2014


We have been blessed this summer with great volunteers for the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids 2014.  At our Horizon Elementary School site, it has been awesome to see the support of not only the school staff, but also individual volunteers and community groups.  For the second summer, we have the privilege of partnering with a group of nursing students from Columbus State Community College who come to our program as volunteers and to complete their Community Education practicum.   They educate the children about important topics such as bike safety and the importance of physical activity.

Even more than this, the nursing students have incorporated fun activities for the kids and also shown a commitment to building relationships as they have participated with them in doing crafts and playing soccer!

This week the nursing students designed an obstacle course for the kids based on a favorite video game of one of the children.  This not only provided a fun and high energy activity for the kids but also showed their willingness to listen to the interests of the kids which was very meaningful for the children and impactful for the staff as well.

Nurse with kids

At SON Ministries, through partnerships, we strive together for the best for our community.


Holidays in Hilliard…

Bashia Price

AmeriCorps VISTA with SON Ministries

July 7, 2014

son 4th banner 2

It has been a very fun and packed first week as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries and to top it all off, I was asked to participate in the Hilliard 4th of July parade this past Friday. Mind you I have never walked in a parade before, and I am not really an in front of the crowd type of person. So this event definitely took me out of my comfort zone, but I am so happy that I said yes because it was one of the best parts of my weekend. When I arrived for setup, the air was thick with holiday excitement. There was a sea of red, white, and blue. I was instantly in a celebratory mood!

SON Ministries had an awesome float, which was a donation from a wonderful family that volunteers a lot of their time with our Alison at 4th paradaorganization. The float was covered from head to toe in balloons, pom-poms, and themed Independence Day crafts from the campers. Among the group of people walking in the parade for SON were extremely dedicated summer camp staff, community volunteers, teen interns, and of course SON staff members.

I was thrilled to see so many people from the community coming together to make our participation in the parade a success. We were able to pass out candy and flyers, which gave information about the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids, as well as different volunteer opportunities within SON Ministries. We danced, laughed, and back flipped (literally!) our way through the parade. All of this was done in the hope of reaching more families in the Hilliard area. Our desire is to serve more children and gain more support from the community.

group pic

At SON Ministries- we bring HOPE to children and families in need by connecting them to people, resources, and a hand up.

Soccer and Life…

By Katie Steitz

Assistant Site Leader

Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids

July 1st, 2014 Crew & RELC


At our summer program today, at our Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church site, we were blessed to have a former Columbus Crew defender come as one of our Special Guests to speak to us about soccer and how the game can teach you valuable life lessons.


Not everyone can be a professional soccer player or even a professional athlete, but the lessons he taught the kids can always be applied to whatever they aspire to be some day.  We talked about how important both listening and hard work are while you work towards your dream.  We also spoke about how both soccer and life are both about making decisions.  If you make good life decisions, the outcome will be great!  If you make poor life decisions, the opposite is true.


With the World Cup in full swing, the campers are obsessed with soccer!!!!   To have a real life soccer player come speak to the kids about the importance of a good attitude, hard work, and practice was amazing for the kids and really helped drive these messages home!


At SON Ministries, through PARTNERSHIPS,

we strive TOGETHER for the very BEST for our community

Bayside Buddies

Katie Steitz.

Assistant Site Leader

Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids 2014

July 2, 2014Bayside buddies pic

At our Bayside site we have a lot of teens that live in the apartments at Bayside and come to our morning site to volunteer with kids they are familiar with while also being able to eat a free lunch.  One of our Teen Interns has developed a lovely, close relationship with one of our youngest campers, a 3 year old boy. The boy camper speaks no English, so he and our Teen Intern are unable to communicate through English.  However, the young boy enjoys being around his favorite Teen Intern and insisted on being next to him all day Friday.  They participated in water day together, played dodgeball together, and ate lunch right next to each other.


Coming to summer camp allows both of these boys to have a free nutritious lunch and also to meet and connect with someone they may not otherwise normally interact with.    One is Arabic-speaking and the other is Spanish-speaking.   Because of their language differences they may not have ever spent time together had they not come to our camp.  This relationship is allowing both boys to branch out from the people they might usually spend time with.  Our Teen Interns are a huge part of why summer camp is successful and the relationships they develop with the children are very important.  The kids love the Teen Interns and we love having them at camp!

At SON Ministries, people are our priority – relationships are our goal.

Welcome to Taco Bell Jr.

By Bashia Price
AmeriCorps VISTA with SON Ministries
July 1, 2014SONY DSC
Friday was my first official day as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries.  Part of my first day included dining at Taco Bell Jr., which is a fully functioning Mexican themed restaurant, that some of the kids at SON Ministries created and now operate every Friday during the summer.  To be honest I wasn’t expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. There was an overwhelming yummy smell of tacos that welcomed me at the door, along with three lovely child-hostesses.  I was taken to a table with the most adorable handmade place mats and floral centerpieces. I was promptly greeted by my server, who knew the menu back and forth. I highly recommend the watermelon juice!

As I waited for my food, I took a look around the restaurant and it was filled with Mexican themed décor – all creatively made by the children!   There was an over sized taco with name of the restaurant printed on it, there were hanging floral banners, it was simply amazing. Another thing that really surprised me was the other guests who were having lunch at Taco Bell Jr. Teachers, principals, local business owners – all coming to support the children in this program. I think the best part of my experience would have to be the proud look on the faces of the children. I could tell that they were very pleased with all of their hard work.

SON Ministries has truly created something special through the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids. It is a place where the children in the Hilliard community can learn and grow, while building meaningful friendships. It is an opportunity for the people in the community to come together to celebrate and connect with each other.  I fully encourage everyone to come out and see what SON Ministries is all about; there are plenty of ways for you to get involved!

At SON Ministries, we are inspired by the unexpected…Join us!