Monthly Archives: August 2016

What are Poverty Simulations?

By Sarah Florimonte

Development and Communications Associate

SON Ministries Central Staff

One question we often get from program participants, donors and volunteers is,“What do you do the rest of the year??”. Many times participants and volunteers find themselves heavily involved with one aspect or program of our ministry and are unaware of our other programs, mission fields or services. One mission we LOVE to talk about is COMMUNITY EDUCATION! We strive to identify and address needs in suburban communities. Then, we work to educate the community of these needs: to build empathy and compassion while teaching the value of and employing the Hand-Up Model.

One of the ways we do this is through Poverty Simulations. Poverty Simulations are unique and enlightening experiences that help individuals begin to understand what life is like for families facing poverty. The simulation we use at SON Ministries is based on the

Poverty Simulation Picture

Missouri Community Action Model. Participants are given an “identity” ranging from child to senior citizen and a situation card, explaining their financial, employment and family status. From there, they go through a simulated month, having to navigate what life is like with a shortage of money and resources and an abundance of stress.

We have facilitated these simulations at many school districts across the state, including multiple times in the Hilliard City School District. We have also done them in partnership with churches and civic groups. We strive to do more outreach to work with any group that has a need!

The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio Schools (Magazine) and the Pickerington Times-Sun have all covered SON Ministries’ Poverty Simulations and we are thrilled they are helping get the word out about this part of our Community Education efforts.

What else does SON Ministries do that you may not be aware of?

Stay tuned as we blog more about different aspects of our mission!

SON Ministries: bringing HOPE to children and families facing the unique challenges of suburban poverty





My First Summer…

By Sarah Florimonte

Development and Communications Associate

SON Ministries Central Staff

As the newest member of the Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries Central Staff, thisCrafts summer was my first involved with the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids. Marketing, planning and preparing for an event I had never seen or attended was a unique experience that I will never forget. Before summer started, I watched videos, talked with coworkers and looked back at old records to try to catch a glimpse of what my six weeks of summer would look like.

After all that, I quickly realized I was unprepared the minute I stepped foot at camp for the first time. I had NO idea the impact this first summer would have on my life.

You can look at numbers, typing them a hundred times, and will have no idea the magnitude of children at one of the summer lunch sites. That first day I was overwhelmed by the noise and laughter coming from this group of children. They were so excited to have room to run and play and there was absolutely no denying that these children were having so much FUN at camp by their smiles. It was contagious and I couldn’t help but have fun just being in their presence every time I went to camp.

You can meet the staff members leading up to camp, and have no idea the skills they have to lead and teach every child that God brings to them at camp. These are skills I don’t possess and I would watch the seasonal staff play with children in a way that comes so easy to them and redirect bad behavior with such grace and kindness.

You can look at pictures and have no idea that surrounding those pictures of smiling faces and fun activities there are numerous other interactions and programming you are missing going on at the same time. Often, I would come to camp to take pictures of a certain invited guest or activity and find myself distracted by something else completely different going on with another group of children at the same time. The ability of the staff to organize all the activities was mind-boggling to me.

I could tell a million stories about camp this summer, and I will in the coming weeks, but most of all, what will always stick in my mind about 2016 will be that fact it was the first time I was able to see FIRST HAND what a small group of people can do to change the lives of hundreds of children in just six short weeks.

SON Ministries: bringing HOPE to children and families facing suburban poverty

Gaining Confidence

By Brittany White

Assistant Site Leader

Horizon Elementary School/ Hilliard Church of Christ

On the very first day of the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids this year, I walked into the lunch room at Hilliard Church of Christ. A little boy that I had known from the previous summer and from the Family ESL Program during the school year was already sitting at the table with his lunch, and when he saw me he burst into a huge smile, yelled, “Miss Brittany!”, and ran up to give me a hug. It made my day, and it gave me a lot of hope for a great summer!

Horize 'n ShineOn one of our restaurant days at Horizon there was a young, enthusiastic third grade boy who was working as a server. After many nerves and questions to the “green shirts” (staff members) about what to say to his customers, he served his first table with great success. Being very proud of himself and exhilarated by the experience, he shared his excitement with me about how it went. By the end of the day he was talking about owning his own restaurant when he was older and referencing the talk that a guest speaker (Charley Shin of Charleys and Bibibop) had given the other day about owning a restaurant. This boy was inspired by working at HoRIZE ‘n Shine Café and gained confidence after working as a server.

SON Ministries: bringing HOPE to children and families facing suburban poverty

Short Stories of Summer

By Taylor Richardson

Assistant Site Leader

Horizon Elementary School/ Hilliard Church of Christ

This summer I rode the bus with children to the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids and I would meet the children and a few of their parents at the bus stop in the morning. There was a little girl who would ride the bus every day and her mother would wait at the stop. Her mother was such a sweet woman and we would have conversation before the bus came every day. She told me about her four daughters and would always ask about my life and what I was up to. She was such an encouraging person for me to see every morning. One day, she came to camp at the end of the day to pick up her daughter and told me in a whispering voice that she needed help getting her daughter’s school supplies for the year. We were able to connect her with resources so she could get school supplies for her daughters. She was so grateful that she no longer had to worry about how her children were going to be ready for school. As she was leaving, she told me how thankful she was and told me she thought of me as one of her daughters. It was such a special moment for me because for me she had been a motherly figure and did more for me than she knew!

One of my favorite moments this summer was getting to the ride the bus with the BUS photochildren to Hilliard Church of Christ. I got to be the first one to see them in the morning and say goodbye to them at the end of the day. I feel so blessed to have gotten that extra time to share stories and listen to their stories. I feel like the time on the bus was such an important part of building relationships with the children this summer. My favorite part of the bus ride was picking up the Country Side Mobile Homes in the morning. The way the bus route is set up the bus had to go past Country Side and then turn around and come back to pick up the children. Everyday the bus would pass and honk the horn and all the children would come running out of their houses to get the bus. My favorite thing in the world was watching them all run out of their houses and jump on their bikes to get to the bus. They would always be laughing and smiling with each as they got on the bus. It made the start to the day of camp so much fun and enjoyable.

This summer I got to know and build relationships with the older children at the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids (our middle school and high school campers).  I have never had much experience with the older children and it was a foreign area for me. However, it quickly became my favorite part of the summer. The older children at camp were usually the children who were more stubborn and difficult when it came to following rules, but getting to know them better allowed me to see them in a whole new light. They were such a fun part of my day and were always encouraging me and making me feel like I was an important part of their day. They asked really hard questions and challenged me daily to think differently about life. They were such a joy and continuously surprised me every day. By then end of camp, the older boys told me they thought of me like their older sister, and I cried, and then they laughed at me for crying like little brothers would do. I love and adore them so much!

SON Ministries: bringing HOPE to children and families facing suburban poverty

Teenagers are Playing with Kids?!

TeenagersAssistant Site Leader – Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids

Horizon / Resurrection Lutheran Church

Seeing the older boys, who normally cause problem, care for younger boys was really high impact. A kindergarten boy became frustrated that he couldn’t shoot a basket and one of the 8th grade boys pulled him out of line and taught him how to shoot a basketball. After that, the older boy took him back into line and encouraged him as he played a game of knock-out.

A child at Horizon consistently refused to participate. He told me that he just wanted to be alone and to not be around people. This was all summer! There were a few times that he would ran laps around the playground and he eventually let me join him. On the last day, he started out pretty solemn as usual, but then was approached by a teen who played with him the rest of the day! I had actually never seen him as happy as he was on that day.

The first day a 4th grade girl was at camp, I took her to the gaga pit and she started looking around really confused. She said, “there are teens here?” I replied that yes, there were. Then she said, “and they are PLAYING with kids?!” I responded that the teens loved playing with the kids and Amanda stood there shocked. “Wow, usually teenagers don’t pay attention to little kids,” she said and then ran over to one and started to play.

During the first week of camp, a 3rd grade girl came to camp with a pain in her side. She explained that she had gotten hurt and sat on the outskirts of camp all day because it hurt to bad to play. During that day I spend a lot of time with her and she told me about her family situation. She explained that she lived with her grandma, her brother got taken away from them so she would never see him again, and she had never met her dad. During that conversation I got to talk to her about how she might not know her earthly father, her Heavenly Father was always with and loves her more than she could imagine. She continued to talk about God and His love for her.

SON Ministries: bringing HOPE to children and families facing suburban poverty

A Simple Thank You…

The following note was sent to our Executive Director, Kim Emch, from a parent of the Hilliard Free Lunch Summer Camp for Kids. It was transposed and shared with permission. 

Ms Kim,

A simple “thank you” doesn’t see to be enough. The “sons ministry” has given my family Flowersso much this summer. After almost 2 years my husband and I have finally found full-time work (after being laid-off after 12 years with a company). As we become financially stable again, extra activities such as camp for 2 children is NOT in the budget. Not only did your program give them healthy meals every day but they openly and lovingly received great experience, fun activities, character building tasks, great memories, new friendships, shoes, school supplies, encouragement and a multitude of limitless kindness that reminds us of the precious love only those who know God can give. More than that, I cannot thank you enough for all that your ministry gave to my family…fulfilling many of our needs and leaving us with our dignity. We didn’t have to be ashamed because you guys humbly, kindly, warmly welcomed us daily. We are so grateful and appreciative. Please accept these flowers as a reflection of the beauty we see in you. Thank you. (Name Withheld)

SON Ministries: bringing HOPE to families facing suburban poverty.