By Alison Gessner Rooney
Director of Programs
At the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids, God has brought us fifty Teen Interns to FEED LOVE and SERVE their neighbor. These teens, “orange shirts” as we affectionately call them, make a four week commitment – a commitment to come faithfully, engage with the children, help with set up and tear down and be available and flexible for any needs that come up. They make a choice to carve out the time to do something meaningful summer 2015.
The Teen Interns come from a very diverse cultural, religious and socio-economic demographic: some are older siblings of the campers OR were once campers themselves and have now “aged up” and are wearing a prestigious “orange shirt” as volunteers – proudly acting as mentors and giving back to their community.
Others are coming in contact for the very first time with neighbors (children and their parents) who are struggling economically. The teens are learning that we have MORE in common with our neighbors – all of our neighbors – than anything that might “separate” us. They are building a foundation for life of compassion and experiencing an effective, respect-filled response.
Teens are learning to be grateful for what they have but, like me, might on any given day(s) take for granted: from food on their table to a peaceful loving home to time spent in the presence of adults who are not working two or three jobs and have TIME to be present and pour into them. And they want all of this for the kiddos they meet and now adore.
Teens also see what THEY are capable of: they are so integral a part of our volunteer/staff team that they experience the JOY and reward of hard work in service to others. They are not leaving the joyful hard work of serving others to “someone else” to do.
Teens are also meeting peers from other high schools both within Hilliard but also beyond – Worthington and Upper Arlington too!
And… teens are having FUN – simply by being with the precious resilient children that God brings to us daily.
It’s hard to describe all that God is doing through the SON Ministries Teen Internship Program (year round!) – one dimension of this larger ministry – but this is just a glimpse into what we are blessed to experience – together – and gives me great HOPE for the future of our community and our country.
At SON Ministries, we build up community, one respect-filled relationship at a time – all are transformed.