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. 

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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
Volunteer
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

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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

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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