Friday was the last day of the Summer Reading Mentor & Lunch program for the year and it was hard to see another summer draw to a close.
I so enjoy watching the kids arrive, greet their peers and Reading Partners, seeing the smiling faces and hearing laughter as they work and play with the children. God was always present in a BIG way.
When submitting their volunteer applications, several youth wrote they either wanted to help a child learn to read, enjoyed working with kids, or to try and share their love for reading. A great group of teen volunteers were selected and each week attended faithfully, on-time and in good spirits .
As the children arrived, the teens eagerly greeted and went to work with their reading partner; easily transitioning from reading time to games, then to Bible Story time and lunch. It was an amazing group to serve with.
Sia, a returning senior in high school, led Bible Story time each week. She did a great job engaging the kids, asking questions and sharing stories of God's love, presence in our lives and how He helps us know the way to go. Often the kids and teen volunteers would excitedly call out an answer or share a comment.The last week she wrapped
up with Bible verses of how we are each unique for a purpose. We went around the room sharing a unique gift God has given each of us.
At the end of Bible Story time each week, we close by asking for prayer requests. Throughout there were requests for family member, health and celebrations. The last day, there were requests for a good school year, to get good grades and that everyone would have peace.
One week, one of the boys told us this summer has helped him and he thanked another volunteer for sharing how God has been at work in her life. Bible Time and Prayer made a difference.
After closing in prayer, we all moved to Fellowship Hall for lunch where teens, children, adult volunteers and some parents ate and visited. This year we got creative with side dishes and it was fun to see the kids excitement over different kinds of fruit. We rotated between options of strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, grapes, watermelon and fruit pops made from yogurt and strawberries. Each week, large bowls of fruit were quickly devoured. The last week we had a special treat of ice cream sundaes.
During the summer, the youth mentioned one of the things they enjoyed was just having a place to come and spend time with their peers.In an end of summer survey, the teen volunteers noted favorite activities were spending time with their mentee, playing games and reading. They selected high ratings for enjoying being a mentor, finding things to talk about and the program benefiting kids enrolled. Every youth volunteer responded Yes to 'if available they'd like to be involved next year". In additional comments, two wrote they were going to miss the program and were sad to leave.