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 children 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