By Lydia Dunn, Assistant Recess Leader Kid’s Club

Over the course of the past three years working with SON Ministries, many “truths” about children and people have been solidified through different interactions. Namely, all people want to be loved. All people want to be accepted. All people want to feel happy.

Recently, another “truth” was set in stone before my eyes and heart. All people want to feel needed. All people want to have a purpose.

Sometimes children struggle when they first arrive to Kid’s Club as it has been a long day at school, work, etc., and they want the comfort of their family. A young boy was struggling in particular. I was blessed to watch him gradually open up and become more comfortable, walking in the doors with a smile instead of tears. However, he still was not acting fully “present” and I was determined to figure out what would make him grin from ear to ear.

Through some experimentation, I discovered that the young boy needed a task. He wanted to help pass out the hand sanitizer in preparation for snack. Later, when he saw the need to clean-up from snack, he jumped at the opportunity. This boy needed to feel needed. Like all of us, he desperately wants to make a positive impact on others around him.

I made a little acronym for the word “purpose”:blog








What do I mean by this? Simply, having a purpose means that you understand how incredibly important what you are doing is to a larger picture.

To countless incredible volunteers at all of the programs of SON Ministries, I am here to tell you that you are needed! We love you and hope that you are filled with a purpose when you walk through our doors.

To our parents and children, you too are needed! We learn as much from you as we are teaching (sometimes we learn even more)!

I am continually blessed by how each individual (staff, volunteer, parent, or child) comes together to make SON Ministries a place of love and fulfillment.

handsAt SON Ministries we see every person created in God’s own image: each has a PURPOSE and a VOICE.


Tick Tock

By Rachel Vallette

Teen Intern 2014/15

Paid Staff 2015/16, 2016/17

“Baby Room” Family ESL Program


Tick Tock Tick Tock

We are all trying to soak in the last few minutes of calm before the door opens and chaos begins. I am laying on the floor looking at the fluorescent lights. The room is set up, clean and ready to go.  That is the last time we will see the floor for the night.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

There is a knock at the door and they all come flooding in. Children already crying, some ready to run and others still resting their eyes from the car ride.  A mom passes me her child, her baby and I can see the fear in her eyes. The fear of leaving her child with someone she doesn’t know and who does not speak her language. I start to bounce and won’t stop until I hand the baby back to his mom in three long hours. I hear a crash and whip my head around. The other kids have already gone and emptied the baskets of toys.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

I look at the clock and it’s only seven. There is screaming in my ear. I have to make two bottles, get tissues, and read a book, all while bouncing. Non stop bouncing. The next two hours  I am moving nonstop but time moves very slowly. Throughout the night I barely sit down. I run from child to child trying to care for their every need.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

Four bottles made,  nine diapers changed,  five tears wiped,  ten books read, and many songs sung.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

The floor is no longer in sight.  Toys are spread out everywhere. As I walk to the next child still holding the first in my arms bouncing for his comfort, I trip on yet another block. There are cheerios on the floor after falling out of little hands. It’s loud, it’s crazy, and I love it.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

Parents are starting to come back from class. One mom opens the door and the children all start to cry. We move as fast as we can getting each child back to their mother and telling mom about the night. There are many smiles and everyone is happy.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

The night is over. All the babies are gone. It is now time to clean, and we all move as fast as we can. In no time at all the room is clean and the lights are off. We close the door to a now quiet room. It will be waiting for us for another night.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

My job is the best part of my week. It’s crazy and it’s loud but the people are amazing. I have learned so much being there. I admire these mothers who know little English and have never left their baby. They are handing over their prize possession to me, so they can go to class and learn English and have a better life. It is the best feeling.  At the end of the year I get to see these moms who now know English.  We now have a relationship and a community. The smiles on the faces at the end of the night will always have an imprint on my heart.

Tick Tockimg_7760


Sharing the Nativity…


SON Ministries’ Staff

img_2270On the final night of Kids Club before break, we had the opportunity to share the beautiful Nativity at UALC The Church at Mill Run with the children.The Nativity is originally from Italy, is life sized and a true work of art.

Thank you to David White of UALC for coming to be a special guest with the children. David said, “(It was) tremendous fun and God was on the move.The volunteer and staff team did a great job and the children were very inquisitive.Thank you for the invitation.”


SON Ministries: We build up COMMUNITY one respectful, empowering relationship at a time.

Healthy Food Served with Love

Taylor Richardson

Assistant Recess Leader, Kids Club

snack-blogThis is my second year being with Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries and Kids Club, which is a part of the Family ESL Program. I have had the wonderful opportunity to assist in feeding hungry children at snack time, which is just one of the many aspects that SON Ministries is dedicated to in the fight to alleviate suburban poverty.  Our program has been blessed with the ability to shift from a quick not super nutritious snack, to an atmosphere where children are now sitting down with one another, talking and laughing about their day, and enjoying a meal of healthy food.

Through partnerships and collaboration we are now able to provide healthier more substantial food than ever at Kids Club.

One night at Kids Club, a middle school girl expressed to me that snack time is the one moment of the day where she felt stress free. She elaborated by saying it was a brief time in her day where she wasn’t worrying and that she could enjoy without being bothered.

What a magical thing good, nutritious food can do for the soul! No child deserves to be hungry and without a source of healthy food. At Kids Club, we use snack time as a way to show these children we love them, we care about them, and we want to celebrate them!

At SON Ministries, we feed children year round – body, mind and spirit.

Welcome and Warm

The morning after our Winter Wear Coat Store 2016 a parent wrote about her experience and asked the principal at her school to forward her comments to us. We were sooooo blessed… and want you to be BLESSED too. – Alison Rooney, SON Ministries’ Director of Programs

14856071_1237322616290492_2921870330194945052_oI wanted to take a second tonight before bed to say thank you for keeping (my daughter) in mind for the Winter Wear event. It was one of the greatest things (she) has been given. She is so grateful for the adorable coats and hand made scarf she received. The way (you) had this organized was amazing. We walked in and there was people everywhere. First thought was oh no this is going to take forever. But within 15 minutes, (a volunteer) found us and began taking (my daughter) shopping. She was so friendly and open to what (my daughter) had to say. She truly made the 10 minutes of picking out a coat all about her!

What I enjoyed most was never once did you have a feeling of being judged, unwelcomed, or even unwanted.

So thank you again for opening another door for an amazing experience for (my daughter).

And the best part of all this, (my daughter) mentioned she would like to donate her old coat to someone in need since she’s outgrown it.

I would love it if you could forward this email just to show my appreciation for this amazing event.

I am extremely grateful for the event, now I do not have to worry about Winter Wear!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

You all took away a little bit of the stress of the upcoming winter and my baby girl’s basic needs ♡

-A Parent , Winter Wear 2016

At SON Ministries, we offer HOPE to children and families facing suburban poverty by offering a respect-filled HAND UP.

Food, Fellowship, and Friendship…

By Alison Gessner Rooney

Director of Programs

Food, Fellowship, and Friendship -across 27 different nations – including the USA. 


Last Thursday evening, volunteers, staff, children and families of the Family ESL Program joined together for our Annual International Thanksgiving Potluck.

A best estimate is that 250 people total were in attendance – a new record!

Our amazing Volunteer Potluck Team, “Larry’s Team”, even rolled out two more large round tables as more eager guests arrived!  (A big shout out to Joy, Larry and “The Team”.)

Women dressed in beautiful traditional clothing – children “dressed up” too – I saw ties and special sweaters and fancy dresses – bringing out the very best for this unique party invitation.

Together we enjoyed foods from all over the world, proudly prepared with loving hearts and hands, eager to share and make real a “tangible” from their home countries – now so far away.

img_1041Together we experienced  a joy-filled talent show by the children of “Kids Club” – featuring acts as diverse as Michael Jackson and a traditional Thanksgiving song… (lovingly taught in the earlier weeks by Teen Volunteer, Hannah).

Together we enjoyed smiles and laughs – universal languages superseding any other (real or perceived) barriers…

Together we connected – with our hearts and through our presence.

Through the Family ESL Program (English classes for adults, educational support and activities for children) we are simply peacefully in proximity, rallying around a joint/shared goal.

We have the God-ordained opportunity (and thrill!), every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and throughout the year(s),  to see and experience each other as more alike than different.

Together we not only seek a more harmonious world, we build one, in Jesus’ name.

At SON Ministries, TOGETHER, we build a more compassionate and caring community, (and world),  one respect-filled relationship at a time.

Put Your Coat On!

By Lindsay Phoenix
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my children, “Put your coat on!” In fact, I’m pretty sure every mother has.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to say those words, or want to say those words and have nothing but a worn, dirty, ill-fitting coat to offer your child. Or worse, nothing at all.
img_0919When my husband and I first heard about Winter Wear , a dignity coat store in Hilliard, and its goal of getting brand new coats to kids who need them, we couldn’t have been more on board.  Why wouldn’t we want to help families do the same thing for their children as we were doing for ours.  And the amazing thing about the coat store is that it really is the parents who are providing for their child.  They have to fill out the registration form.  They have to get their child to the store.  They have to pay for the product.  Winter Wear just makes it possible for us to come along side them, provide a warm, inviting atmosphere, maybe a little too much sugar at the snack table, and a big break in the price. I felt like the goal of the coat store was to give a family something they needed and the love they deserved.
So far, I’ve only served through one coat store shopping session (there are three more scheduled), but I’ve been amazed and humbled to watch different organizations and people who in isolation didn’t have the means to make such a store happen, but by coming together, had their resources, space, time, and talents multiplied through God’s goodness. Winter Wear is a partnership between Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries, Upper Arlington Lutheran Church and Life Community Church.  At the core of this service, Winter Wear wants to preserve the family’s dignity and my prayer is that each family feels this with every coat that is worn out the door!
If you would like to volunteer at Winter Wear, please visit: http://tinyurl.com/jzmftqq. Winter Wear is also still accepting donations of new gloves and hats, email info@SON-Ministries.org for donation information. Thank you!

Having a Grateful Heart…

By Kara Williams

Kids Club Assistant Leader




The leaves are changing colors and the air is growing cool again. This must mean it’s time for Kids Club at the Family ESL Program to begin! One of the many programs Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries offers is Kids Club, a program dedicated to alleviating suburban poverty one relationship at a time. Here there is fun to be had, new friends to meet, and hope to share in. Each week we bring new and exciting activities to explore and creativity is always encouraged. Children attending Kids Club also learn all about the joy of serving others.

For example, this week we all contributed in making a fingerprint painting for a fellow flower-picturestaff member. Each child placed his/her unique fingerprint on the canvas, creating a beautiful “fingerprint flower.” All faces were ear to ear in smiles as we completed the project to give her. This was just one of many times we will come together to serve someone we are thankful for.

At Kids Club, we emphasize important values such as having a grateful heart and respecting and appreciating others. Each of us has a role to play throughout the program year, and together we make it a wonderful place to be!

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

Four Easy (and Two Free!) Ways to Support SON Ministries

As fall begins, we would like to take time to thank all of our supporters and readers of our blog. There are so many ways you can, and did, offer your support but whether you’re a long-time contributor, or new to SON Ministries, this season is a great time to be reminded of easy (and free) ways you can support us throughout the year. Thank you for considering supporting us through any or all of the ways listed below!

1. Kroger Rewards – Link your Kroger Card to support Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Kroger Logo - PMS 293Ministries! Every time you make a purchase with your card, SON Ministries will receive a portion of that sale! Hundreds of dollars have been donated to us through this program. To enroll, visit the Kroger Community Rewards page. Please note you MUST re-enroll every year, so if you have enrolled in the past, check to me sure you are still enrolled.

amazon-smile-logo-newest-012. AmazonSmile – AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. By visiting SmileAmazon.com and choosing SON Ministries as your chosen charity, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to SON Ministries! You can log into your existing Amazon account (including Amazon Prime) while using AmazonSmile.

3. Amazon Wishlist – SON Ministries has set up an Amazon WishList for items needed su_amazonwishlist_480x150_dduring the Family ESL Program this year. All of these items are to be used at Kids Club, to provide academic support to the children attending. Purchase one or more items off the WishList and it will be sent directly to SON Ministries!

4. Become a Sustaining NeighborSet up monthly reoccurring donations to SON Ministries. These donations help us plan out our year financially and ensure that all SON Ministries programs happen from year to year! Monthly donations, no matter how small, are so important and impactful to a community not for profit like SON Ministries.

Thank you for ALL the ways you support Serving Our Neighbors (SON) Ministries!

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

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