Monthly Archives: January 2015

Book Review of Toxic Charity

By: Eman Albash
Ohio State University Social Work Intern
Academic Year 2014/15

At my first week as an intern at SON Ministries I was given the book Toxic Charity to read as an introduction to SON’s philosophy of how to serve the community. Toxic Charity was written by the pastor Robert Lupton, a man who has many years of experience of community development in the U.S. and internationally. He has researched and personally experienced many effective—and ineffective—models of charity. Toxic Charity is a call for people to critically examine the ways they and their communities attempt to help those who are less fortunate to ensure that their attempts to help are, in fact, helping.


If the message of Toxic Charity could be reduced to a single statement, it would be this: “When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do themselves, we disempower them.”

Robert Lupton illustrates this concept by sharing many examples of helpful versus toxic models of charity. One of the first examples he gives is the following story:

One summer a group of students and adults went on a service trip to an African village. The village did not have its own water supply and as a result the people of the village had to spend a significant part of their day transporting water into the village. The trip’s mission was to build a well for the village. The service group dug and built the well and by the end of their trip the village had a regular, local supply of water.

Months later, the leader of the mission followed up with the African village to see how their water situation had been holding up. The response he received was that the people of the village had resorted back to hauling water into their village from other locations. Why? The well had broken down.

So that summer, the same group of volunteers went back to the village and fixed the well. Once again, the village had a plentiful supply of water. Yet when the man contacted the village some months later, the same report came back—the well was broken and villagers were transporting water in from other places.

When I read this story, my first question was why the people of the village did not simply fix the well themselves. Surely someone in the village had the necessary technical skills? Lupton argues that this occurred because the village did not feel as though the well belonged to them. The church group had fully funded the costs of the well and the volunteers built it. They did not use the money, resources, or manpower of the villagers to help create the well.

When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do themselves, we disempower them.

So what is to be done? Lupton asserts that people in communities should always have a role in helping to develop or improve their own communities. To not draw upon a community’s resources is not only to disempower individuals but to ignore the vast amounts of strengths and assets the community has. And every community, from the Hilliard suburbs to the inner cities, has these assets.

Lupton is not using Toxic Charity to try to discount the charitable work of churches and faith-based communities. It is a blessing to live in an era and a community that puts such a high value on helping others. Lupton simply says that people who serve have the responsibility to ensure that they do no harm to the people they mean to help.

Toxic Charity is a must-read for social service agencies, places of worship, and for anyone who has or wants to help others. Luckily, the book is easy to read and Lupton gives a lot of practical advice of how best to work to improve communities.

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

Redefining Language

Claire Rickly

Ohio State Social Work Intern

Academic Year 2014/15

After registering several new families for English classes and Kids Club, we are thrilled to be kicking off this new year with new faces. Despite the cold weather, we have MANY children and families enjoying Kids Club with us on Tuesday and we have excitedly welcomed these families into the Kids Club family.

I had the privilege of spending some time with one of these precious new children. My new friend is a 2nd grader who has not yet learned English. Although we were unable to communicate with words, we were able to play games together, Blog photomake puzzles and laugh a lot! She learned several new English words and I, in turn, learned several new Arabic words. What was so special about this time was that not even language could keep this girl from enjoying her time at Kids Club. The
time that I spent with this child redefined “language” for me. Language is more than just words. We used gestures and facial expressions to understand each other. We found unique and fun ways to communicate with each without using words. And this situation is not isolated. We have children from many different countries, cultures and languages who find ways to connect with each other aside from their words. I frequently watch children from entirely different cultures who connect through something other than words. They find other commonalities and invent their own new “language” to have fun together.

By the end of my evening at Kids Club, I found that without being able to speak to this child, I was still able to develop a relationship with her. I am already looking forward to spending time with her at the next Kids Club!

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

Teens Bring Music and Magic to Kids Club

By Pam Vallette
Program Manager
SON Ministries

Singing 1

Oh what a night!!  The Blue Ladies and Boys in Blue from Hilliard Davidson High School graced us with their singing and positive energy at Kids Club.   Joy filled the gym as these local teens sang a Capella to the school-aged children.  Children were invited to join them on stage with many belting out the lyrics to a song from “Frozen” to end the performance.  When the singing ended, the teens quickly transitioned the gym into a dance party.  Everyone, from kindergarteners to high school students, and even the adults, let loose and danced!

So, what makes this even more remarkable?   These teens from Hilliard Davidson initiated, organized and volunteered their time to perform at Kids Club.  It was remarkable to see teenagers with the confidence to embrace their talents and share them voluntarily.  What great role models!  For the many low income children from 34 countries who attend, this was truly a special treat.

When the Blue Ladies and Boys in Blue shared their talents, God’s plan for them was visible to all.

Singing 2

What is God’s plan for you?  We invite YOU to share your talents.

We see the DIVINE in each person: each has a purpose and a voice.

Cold Outside but Warm Inside

By Pam Vallette
Program Manager
SON Ministries

GlobeEager families braved the bitter COLD last Thursday night to come to registration night at the Family ESOL/Kids Club program. Adults came to the church to register themselves for English classes with instructors from Tolles Career and Technical College. They also registered for children’s programming at Kids Club. The families we welcomed are recent arrivals to the U.S. and our community from countries including Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Peru and Mexico to name a few. For the adults, learning to speak English is critical to their assimilation into life in the U.S. as well as their employability. For the children, recreation, activities and homework help support their progress in school as well as their own English language and personal development.

My reflection this morning is particularly on 2 families from Iraq and the wonderful Teens and staff who welcomed them. The first Iraqi family arrived in the U.S. just 13 days ago! Fourteen days ago they were in their home country and birth home. And Thursday night they came to US – to UALC The Church at Mill Run and SON Ministries. They have 3 boys ages 15, 13 and 7 who do not speak any English. Understandably, the boys seemed a bit hesitant at first. I introduced them to several of our Teens who were exceedingly warm and welcoming. With smiles and gestures they invited the boys to play soccer. Within a few minutes the boys were part of the community – interacting through soccer, a universal “language” and bridge builder.

The second family from Iraq has a 13 year old daughter who again speaks almost no English and whose mom originally hoped she could attend English classes too. When the girl approached the gym and saw the children playing soccer and basketball, she was very hesitant to enter. Again, using big smiles and encouraging gestures, I was able to coax her through the gym to our Quiet(er) Zone where we offer art activities, board games and Legos. She quickly sat down at the art table next to a very faithful adult volunteer who is THE perfect companion for reluctant young teens. The girl remained at the craft table, content, for the full 3 hours while her mother went through registration, testing and orientation for English classes. I felt very affirmed. We truly are a full family program and can meet the needs of many different children – all are welcomed and served…

Finally, I need to thank the staff, teens and volunteers who left their own warm and cozy homes last week so we could together receive and serve these new families. While SON Ministries sets the stage, it is truly the members of the community who share the WARMTH and LIGHT in loving and serving the families whom God brings and entrusts to us.

At SON Ministries, people are our priority – RELATIONSHIPS are our goal! Join us?