Sunday, February 18, 2018

Setting the Example

About a month ago this was my personal post on social media:

As I have scrolled through social media today, I have seen post after post with pictures and/or quotes of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Myself included.
And don't get me wrong, I love it.
But what happens the next 364 days?
Do his words still resonate with you?
Does the dream still feel reachable?
Let me encourage you today...yes, let's quote Dr. King today, but may we also determine in our hearts that we want to see the change he so bravely fought for and do our part to make it happen!
Let us not reduce his dream to a once a year post on social media.
But rather choose to show love.
Every day.
To speak out.
To build bridges.
To seek justice. Justice for all. Not just those you are comfortable with.
To not turn our eyes and ears away from what has become passive.
But rather turn our eyes and ears to Jesus...and the words and direction he provided us that Dr. King would later emphasize.
We need to be emphasizing His words and direction!!
As mentioned in the video I shared earlier, "I may not look like Dr. King, but I believe like Dr King."
And though I have a small voice and small platform, I will continue to show, in as many ways that I can, that we ARE Better Together!
I am currently reading Letters To Birmingham Jail: A Response To The Words And Dreams Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It's a collection of essays written by men of various ethnicities and ages and addresses the passivity of the issues that were close to Dr. King's heart.
As I am just into the first essay, I cannot speak to what I am taking in just yet, but I do know this:
Jenny Harsin wants to be known for what she stood for, not against. Friends, so often we look for what we want to see and listen for what we want to hear that I fear we are missing what is happening right in front of us.
May our eyes and ears be open to the injustices within our own communities and may we be brave enough to stand up for what is right.
Dr. King is quoted saying, "In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Sheeeww....So. Much. Truth.
I am going to continuously choose love.
And love like Jesus does...without deciding for myself whether or not a person is worthy.
What are you doing today to be remembered for tomorrow?

So, I want to ask, in the midst of a week yet again filled with senseless tragedy - what are we doing to make a better tomorrow?

As I was listening to my 9 year old daughter and her best friend play this afternoon, I am reminded that we have to do our part to make their future better.  
And even more so, we need to continue to set the example for them.
I've shared this photo before, but want to share it again - it will always be my favorite of them.
These girls really are the best of friends.  
They really act more like sisters.
Why?
Because they love each other.  They spend time together.  They bring out the best (and sometimes worst) in each other.
I have SO many pictures of them TOGETHER!  Added bonus is that we only live a few houses from each other so they are together a lot, and they have learned that I am "THAT" mom and will always want a photo...but it's more than that.
As I watch and listen to them play it really just makes my heart happy.
I believe as parents, we get a lot wrong sometimes, but I can honestly say - we're getting this right.  
I love that their family is "our family," too.  And I can say, with confidence, her family feels the same way. 
Can I pinpoint when this happened? No.
I truly believe that it's because we both are setting the example to LOVE!  And love with no boundaries.
These girls are going to be world changers, I do believe!
This past fall, our families served together at our church's Trunk or Treat - that's right, they "served" together.  They did go through and grab a bag of candy, I mean, you're only little once, right?!  But we reiterated the importance of giving back to the community we live in.  To show LOVE!
It was cold, y'all!  But they stuck it out with us!
This Saturday, we'll be serving together with Adopt-A-Block!

I don't know what the answer is to much of what is going on anymore.
I do have hope though.
I look at these strong girls we are raising and know that this is our future.  
And if we can set the example for them, in all things, maybe we will start to see a change.  

One of the examples we are setting for our girls is our relationship with Jesus.  
In fact, as I was sitting down to post tonight, I was asked what I was going to write about and when I said, what do you think I should write about, the first answers that came were, "How about how much you love us and how much you love Jesus."

If we can get this right, friends, I truly believe that we will start to see change.

Jesus LOVED.

While He was on this Earth, He LOVED!
I mean it's as simple as that.

He didn't argue with people who believed different than him, He LOVED.
He didn't tell others they were unworthy, He LOVED.
He didn't talk about people behind their back, He LOVED.
He called people out, but used grace.
He was a teacher and if you read his stories you will find he taught in LOVE.
It didn't matter if you were the sinner or the saint.
He LOVED.

Don't you think it's possible for us to do the same?
I do!!

When is the last time you invited someone different from you to eat at your table at lunch, much less invite them into your home?
When is the last time you reached out and helped someone in need just because?
When is the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone because you are ready to see change?

Let's not just post about having a dream of a better world one day...let's make it happen!
We are better together and we need to start the ripple effect!


xox,
Jenny





Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Love In Any Language


Ok, friends...I know I've mentioned before about the Adopt-A-Block ministry that is led by our church, Emmanuel Wesleyan Church.  And I shared on Saturday a little from my personal experience on our Facebook page.  But I still feel this stirring in my soul and felt it deserved a blog post.  So if some of this sounds redundant, I am apologizing up front! :)

The Adopt-a-Block ministry is where we go into an area of our city that needs love and we show it.  
It's really that simple. 
The motto is, "Find a need and fill it.  Find a hurt and heal it."  

Yes, this is a church ministry.
No, there are no strings attached.
In fact, the only time you hear 'Emmanuel Wesleyan Church' is when we're knocking on the door, identifying ourselves to let them know who is there.  
It's truly just about serving our community and showing and sharing love.

We mostly give food.  And food that is primarily donated from the Maryland Food Bank.
This past Saturday we were also able to give toothbrushes and toiletries.
At Thanksgiving time, other organizations join with us and we're able to provide a "traditional" box of all things Thanksgiving including a fresh turkey!
At Christmas, we help provide gifts for the children.
We help with needed items such as clothes, school supplies, and furniture.
It's truly about helping to meet basic needs.

There is laughter and some time tears.
There are hugs!
There is prayer if the need arises.  In fact, just this week, we stopped and prayed for a policeman who was patrolling the area we were in as well as the mailman out on his walking delivery route, and a few of the tenants. 

To be totally transparent, the few times I've been able to actually help with the food delivery, I find myself praying and observing the others throughout the walk around the blocks.
Why?
Because I truly believe change begins with us!!!  And I have a dream of seeing our city united!  And I believe it starts with us, but more so - our churches.  And churches willing to not just discuss what is wrong and what "should" be done, but churches that actually get out there and do the work, build the relationships.  With no strings attached.
That is what this ministry is doing.  It is truly showing love in a tangible way.  We have this team of people who are dedicating hours on Saturday mornings to reach out to a community that is, for the most part, not the "norm."  It's the sections of our city that most people avoid.

As we started back this week I found it so fitting that as I got in my vehicle the words that were streaming though my radio were, "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me..."
This was after all the food had been packed up, teams were set and ready to go, and Pastor Mark Thompson had shared with everyone a reminder about what the purpose of this ministry is and we had joined in a huge circle for prayer before heading out for the morning on our routes!

Friends!!  Let me encourage you today to look right in your city to see how you can help make a difference.  How YOU can show LOVE!  You don't always need to go across the continent, sometimes, you just need to open your eyes to the people and situations right around you!

I hesitated before taking any photos this past week because I feel like mission work...serving God... has become about the photos - because if we don't have the photos - did we even do it?  
HOWEVER, I had such a memorable moment that I thought, no - you know what?!  I want social media to see that GREAT things are happening locally and I truly believe greater things are yet to come!

We are so much BETTER TOGETHER!!!





Keeping it real moment - this precious girl and the interaction my team had with her family was a reminder for me that love has no language...it is universal.

This little 3 year old and I played as some of my teammates were providing education for her mom; along with a few other younger gals on my team we simply played ball and tag.  The laughter that came from her little self just filled my soul.

You see, her family just recently moved from out of the country and speak and understand no English.  At all.  They are fluent in Portuguese.  While my teammates were using Google translator to communicate with the mom, we played.  Simple as that.  Nothing extravagant, no fancy toys, just a squishy ball she had laying in the backyard.  The mom was able to "talk" with our teammates and they were able to set up time to come back with an interpreter to see how we can come alongside and help her family.  We probably spent a total of less than 10 minutes with them and as we were leaving we were hugging on them and saying Thank You, hoping they understood what we were implying, and that sweet girl waved and smiled so big and said, clearly, Thank You!

She may not have understood a word we said the entire time we were there, but I can guarantee she felt the love.  
Love, in any language, is universal.

So I opened my arms and she ran back.  
And I did; I grabbed a quick photo because I want social media to see there are needs right here, too.  That we have people living in poverty here, too.  That there are people, right here in our community, that need to be shown love, unconditional love.
Not that we shouldn't be going to other areas in our world, but more so of getting it right, right here where we live first.
And then start the ripple effect outwards.  

We were able to connect with that precious family who didn't understand much, if any, of what we were physically speaking to them, but they understood we were there in love, and it was truly a God moment.

Friends, yes - we were in the not so good section of our city, but we showed up.
With food.  With resources to help.  And most importantly, with love.  

And that is what it's about - pouring out and loving on the people right in our community.  

My heart is still full and that is just one of the amazing things that happened that morning.
I also made two friends!  Friends I am so excited to serve alongside again next week.  



I have a shirt my hubby recently gave me that says, THE LAMPS ARE DIFFERENT BUT THE LIGHT IS THE SAME!

And as I looked around at the circle I was a part of - holding hands, united, standing shoulder to shoulder - it is so very true.

We are ALL so different.
Different ages.
Different sizes.
Different colors.
Different educations.
Different backgrounds.
Even representing different churches.

But the LIGHT inside of us is the same!  
And, on a gloomy, dreary Saturday morning, I can tell you - the LIGHT was shining bright!

I want to encourage those of you who live locally to join me next Saturday!!!

And I want to introduce you to Pastor Mark Thompson and his lovely wife, Felicia:


I simply love them.
And once you get to know them, I think you'll find yourself loving them, too.
They are the driving force behind this ministry and have formed a team, that's still growing, that have the same mindset of reaching out and serving and loving our local community.  

I wanted to share a follow up email we received today from Pastor Mark in response to Saturday to reinforce what a difference this ministry is making in one small area of our city:

I want to give a great big THANK YOU hug to everyone that came out on this past Saturday for our opening Adopt-A-Block for 2018!
This was another incredible God filled day.  Because you came out in good numbers, we are able to expand to add more blocks we serve. 
In fact, during this past Saturday, we meet a family who moved here from Portugal. This single mom had three little children who needed to be enrolled in school.  God sent the supervisor from the Wicomico County Judy Center with us and they made contact with this family, now these children can start a formal education!!  
Also, we went to a house of a family who had moved into the are last month, but during this entire time they 
have been sleeping on the floor (children are in Pre-K, Kindergarten and 1st grade.  I was able to give them more food today and let the mother find more clothes and blankets in our "Clothes Closet" in the Miracle Building.  We will be delivering a bed to her on Saturday. ( If you have or know of someone giving away a kitchen table and chairs, please let me know).
  
This is our mission for Adopt-A-Block, Find a Need, Fill It...Find a Hurt, Heal It!!  
Thanks to each of you, we are able to turn our Mission into Motion!
You will be able to see our pictures on Sunday at our Adopt-A-Block table.

God bless and get ready for Saturday, February 24, 2018 at 8:30am 

Pastor Mark Thompson 

I may be a tiny person, but I have big dreams!
And I truly believe that it is through the hearts of people that I joined with on Saturday, that recognize that we are better together, that is going to help those dreams come to life!  
That it's not about the color of our skin, what kind of car we drive, our jobs, how "good" our kids are - it's simply about showing love that has so freely been given to us!

Great things are happening.
Greater things are yet to come!


xoxo,
Jenny

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Real Life

I recently read theses two statements:

You know you've grown when you're actually doing the things you tell others you do.

AND

Don't compare your every day "real" life to everyone else's social media highlight reel.

And it got me thinking...so thinking is leading to sharing. 
Haven't posted much in the past few months and then 2 posts in 2 days!
That's how I roll sometimes.

Anyways.

DO we only show the good stuff?
Do we choose, intentionally, to share only the highlights?
And if so, why? 
Is it to feel worthy?  Or to somehow fit in?  To feel important?  To be admired? 

Is it a control thing? 

Because what would people think if they saw the not so put together us? 
The one who struggles with depression, anxiety, fear, eating disorders, addicitions?
The one who lives paycheck to paycheck and has to stretch every little bit to make ends meet?
The one who is fighting desperately to make the relationships in their life work?
The one whose child is struggling with...
The one who was recently given a diagnosis they were not expecting...

Do we only post the good stuff because online we can control what people "see?"
And some how, if we can make it look good on the outside, then surely, we can work at getting it together on the inside.

And I know, social media is just that - social media.
And we have the option to post what we want. 
Or, not post at all, but jump on to get a glimpse into what others are posting.

But friends, people are watching us.
Much more than what they are listening to what we have to say.

And honestly, I am inspired when I get to see others full journey, not just the highlight reel that, more often than not, neglects to share the tough stuff. 
Because isn't the tough stuff the stuff we can relate to even more than we can the highlights?

For me, when I stopped to question my own self - I think I try to share it all. 
Keeping it real - it's much easier to share the good things.  The tough times puts us in a place of vulnerability and that's a tough pill to swallow. (and for those who know me well, I don't swallow pills well at all! ;) )

However, I believe the behind the scenes, the not so pretty days, are what truly makes us who we are. 
And I want to encourage you to share that.

And maybe you think social media isn't the place for that.
Maybe not - sometimes, many times, things are better left out of the social media trap. 
But don't be afraid to share it with your people.  To get real and honest and let them know how they can come alongside of you during the behind the scenes that you're just not ready to show everyone else. 

Friends, we are better together!!!
Don't get tangled up with comparison, but choose to recognize that we each have our "mess." And our "people" should be able to handle our mess.
Allow yourself to make connections with others, share not only your highlights, but your behind the scenes, too - and you never know who you may help along the journey.

Simply put, let's choose to just be kind to others. 
Because whether they share it or not, they aren't just living the highlight reel. 


xox,
Jenny

Friday, January 19, 2018

Find your People


I have, for the past few months, been in a place of simply quieting my soul.  
I haven't done as much "writing" as I have been jotting down thoughts and ideas...and spending a lot of time in prayer.  
I've been doing a lot of watching and listening.  That sounds creepy when I type it out, but you know what I mean...right?!

I so often have, in my mind, all these "good things" I want to share but was having difficulty once I sat down to actually make it make sense on paper.

I think, no - I know, that I have this tendency to want to be all things to all people.
The best wife.
The best mom.
The best daughter, sister, friend, employee, co-worker, etc.
The best blogger/writer of my thoughts! :)
And y'all.
It's exhausting.

And creates anxiety for me.
I'm recognizing that.

My sis always hooks me up with good reads at Christmas and this year she gifted me with Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist.  And it was JUST what I needed to read.  I felt that so much of it could have been me writing through different seasons and then other times finding myself absorbing every singe word.  It's a book about learning to say no, becoming brave enough to disappoint people, trusting your own voice, and simply understanding God's unconditional love for you.

If you haven't read it, I highly recommend you do so!

I want to share a chapter that just resonated with me, "Your Mess Is Mine":

Your Mess is Mine
I'm going to a friend's party this week - a party for her child, and that means her family will be there. She texted last night to say, "You know how my dad is sometimes, right? I feel worried about my dad at the party. I feel embarrassed."
And I texted back as quickly as I could, fingers tripping: "I get it. I get him. I love you. You don't have to worry about this with me, okay?"
We texted back and forth a little while, and then all night I was thinking about the exchange. I've known her, and therefore her family, for more than two decades. We've known each other longer than we've known our husbands. We've known each other since before we could drive.
But there's something so human about feeling embarrassed, about wanting to hide, about wanting to conceal and control the out-of-control and painful things about our lives and stories and families.
Love, though, doesn't allow hiding. Love invites whole selves and whole stories out into the light. Friendship sees into us, into our secrets, into our elaborate games and excuses. Friendship carries all this mess together, so that you don't have to hide, so that you carry it together. What a miracle!
So that friend and I carry some things for one another. She knows some of the more painful, shameful parts of my story. I know some of hers. In our little tribe we carry depression and addiction. We carry parents who drink and kids who struggle. We carry abortions and divorces and drug-using loved ones --- ones who used to use, who still do, who we've lost because of it. We carry eating disorders and suicide. One night, one friend whispers into our circle, "I don't believe in God anymore." And we carry that.
Because that's what friendship is. That's what is does.
This little tribe may look squeaky clean, maybe like the kind of people who have no problems, like the kind of people who've only ever been swimming in the shallow end. Life upends us all, and there's no sparkly exterior that can defend against disease and loss and cheating spouses. We carry depression and wounds and broken marriages. We carry addictions and diseases and scars and loss of faith. We carry it because that's what love is. That's what friendship is.
So I'll walk into her party, and I'll hug her tightly, and as I do, I'll say a prayer for her dad. I'll hug him, too, and maybe he'll be high or maybe not this time. With him, to be honest, I can't always tell.
And if you walked by the party, you might think, I'm not like them. I have secrets and problems and family members who embarrass me. I'm afraid, and our secrets are the bad kind. You'll see children running around and happy parents and you'll think you're not like them. But that's because you're not seeing what they carry. I see it, though, because they're my people. I see each of us who are carrying those heavy weights together, for one another, on behalf of one another. And it's the most beautiful thing I can think of.
We're all so much more similar than we are different. Our secrets are largely the same. Our fears are largely the same. Marriages crack, addictions take hold, families break, decisions are made that can never be reversed. No one is exempt.
My friend isn't alone. She won't be the only one at that party hoping that someone she loves pulls it together for a couple hours. She won't be the only one wishing her story was different, neater, simpler.
At some point in the party, I'll check in with another old friend --- I've been carrying his family's deception and betrayal and disease for decades. I'm honored to. And he carries the broken parts of my family's story, and my failures and regrets. Because that's what we do: we carry the mess together. Your mess is mine.

***Because that's what we do: we carry the mess together. Your mess is mine.***

Shewww...can anyone relate?!

This past week there have been several situations that have just been tough for friends of mine.  I sent a message to one of my girlfriends more or less saying we always hear of these unimaginable things happening, and for some reason, I think we have this thought process that it's just that - always someone else.  That it won't happen to us...or someone we know.  So when it does, it's just almost unbearable.  And my heart has physically ached this week.  
But then I got thinking...how fortunate we are that we have these people in our lives that when their world stops, ours does too.  That God has strategically placed these amazing people in our lives that we get to experience not only the highs, but the devastatingly lows, too.

God is like that, friends.
He brings people into our lives to help us to not only celebrate the good, but carry our mess at times.

In another book I recently read by Sharon Jaynes, she shares this:
Throughout scripture we see how God placed women together in relationships to encourage one another and provide a place of retreat.  Just as God sent Mary to Elizabeth and Ruth to Naomi, He continues to place women [together] for mutual support, accountability, and friendship.

Now this was obviously focused on women, but men - the same goes for you, too!!!

I'm so very thankful for the people that God has placed in my life...
I, too, refer to them as "my people" and seriously, have been blessed with the best.
Some I have had the pleasure of having in my life for many, many years...some more recent. 
I sat in a meeting surrounded with 5 other ladies this week; 2 of which are my friends and the other 3 we joked we were "social media friends."
After a couple of hours together, I truly consider them my friends.  And would go as far to say that I know they are going to be "my people!"  Each of us shared just a bit of our lives, our hearts with each other, and in doing so, opened the door for connection.

We are so much better together!

I shared with my hubby that night what a great time I had and just how I felt like I "fit in."

I think maybe we all long for this; having people you can "fit in" with...whether it be like your comfy cozy blanket that brings you security or that new outfit or hairstyle that gives you a boost of confidence.

I want to encourage you to find your people.
And love them well.


xox,
Jenny



Tuesday, November 14, 2017

LISTEN

This is going to be short and sweet, but it's on my heart so I wanted to share.

Friends...there are so many people that you are going to speak to throughout the day and there are many that are going to speak to you.

If I can encourage you today - SPEAK LIFE!

Surround yourself with the people who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
This may mean making some changes in your life - - - this is ok!
Sometimes tough, but also doable.

Our pastor spoke about this some in his message this past week; a reminder that God will ALWAYS send someone to speak life to you.  A reminder that you have to have people in your corner that are able to show you the bigger picture.

Sometimes, I think you have to be willing to drown out all the noise and listen to who He is using to speak to you.  What you need to hear can come in so many ways...

I can tell you - I'm a words person and my family and friends know this.
And my inner circle is small, but it's filled with people who speak life!!!
Within the past 3 weeks, my love tank has been filled just when I needed it most.

It actually started with a text that simply said:  "So while doing my last bit of homework for my Bible study, this question grabbed my attention.  I did end up writing other names, but none came as instantly and effortly as yours.  I just wanted you to know the effect your have on others just by being who you are..."  The question - In a world where Jesus followers often feel alienated, we can run to one another, huddle, laugh, and muse for a moment and almost taste home.  Whose company gives you what you think might be a foretaste of Heaven's fellowship?

I'm sharing this, not to boast, but to show - God will send people to speak life to you!!!

What this person didn't know when she sent that message was that is came at the end of a very frustrating day when my "mind" was getting the best of me and I felt defeated because nothing, and I mean nothing, was going the way I intended at work.  My "job."  What I get paid to do. And what I strive to give my best daily.

That text was a simple reminder that it doesn't matter what my "job" is day in and day out - what matters is the work I am doing for Him.

Speaking LIFE!!

We need people in our corner speaking life over our jobs.
We need people in our corner speaking life over our marriages.
We need people in our corner speaking life over our children.
We need people in our corner speaking life over our finances.   
Over our situations.
Over our hurts.
Our troubles.
Our fears.

And we need to be able to return it and speak life into those around us!

Take a look at the people around you.
Listen to them.
What are they speaking to you?
Drown out the noise, and take time to listen.

If  their words are not building you up, but bringing you down - you  may need to rethink the interaction you allow yourself to have with them. 

And take a good listen to yourself.
Are you using your words to build others up or tear them down?

Oh, goodness - we are so much better together!
Speak life to the people around you and let's watch this world change person by person!

xox


Monday, November 6, 2017

Failure to Thrive

Failure to Thrive.

You hear this a lot with pediatric patients, sometimes adults.
It's defined as decelerated or arrested physical growth and is associated with abnormal growth and development.

My parents were told this was what I had as a child; I wasn't gaining weight or inches.  And, unfortunately, that "title" stayed with me for a long time.

And I don't like this term, "failure to thrive."

There.
I said it.

In all honesty, I really don't.

And in my case, not only was I being compared to what an "average" child should be doing, but I have a twin sister I was being side by side compared to as well.

Failure to thrive.
How dumb is this?
Seriously!
I think they need to come up with a better term.

Which has led me to some thoughts:

Failure to thrive is so much more than a medical term given to patients.
Thrive means to prosper, flourish....do well, advance, succeed.
Failure - lack of success.  Defeat.

This is so much more than weight and inches.
Am I right?!
Think about it.

We have so many things that we are able to thrive with, yet we often let failure overcome.

Our jobs.
Our marriages.
Our children.
Our friendships.
Our talents.

And I often wonder is this failure to thrive more about what we can't do OR more about keeping up with the image of what we think others think we "should" be doing and we set our own self up for failure.

Meaning do we put limits on ourselves because we see others rocking it out and just feel like we're "never going to get there..."

With your job - it may not be what you want to be doing for the rest of your life, but do you show up and give it 100% no matter what?
With your marriage - are you giving what you want to be receiving?  Are you pursuing your spouse 5, 10, 15 years later like you did when you were dating?
With your children - are you setting the example, are you loving them when it's hard to even like them sometimes....just keeping it real, y'all - tween and teenager years can be tough.
With your friendships - are you allowing grace? Being there for each other in the highs and lows and not just out of convenience?
With your talents - are you using what you have or hiding it?

I hope you see where I'm going here.
It's really easy to get caught up in how it looks from the outside looking in to someone else thriving, but guess what?!?
Those people are probably feeling the same.exact.way.

You have everything you need to thrive; God has equipped you with everything you need for this journey through life.
They have everything they need to thrive; God has also equipped them with everything they needs for this journey through life.

Let's stop comparing side by side and just start blooming and creating a beautiful place for us all.


Sunflowers stand tall and mighty.
Lily of the Valley sits low and delicate.

Both just decided to bloom!
No need for competition...just determined to thrive!

Friends, we are better together.

xox,
Jenny

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dream With Me...

 
Today, I would like to take the time to introduce you to a local organization, Epoch Dream Center, that is doing HUGE things for our local community!  I've asked they share their story and how you can get involved!  Please share this post!!!  The more people we can make aware of all they are doing to help just one local community, the better! 
 
Epoch is all about showing how we truly are better together and have stepped up to make sure our children are geared for a better tomorrow!  Please consider volunteering your time or financially coming alongside them to ensure this program continues to reach our future!
 
 
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The Epoch Dream Center is a free after-school program servicing under-resourced children in Kindergarten through eighth grade. We are located in Hebron, MD, just minutes outside of the town of Salisbury. To paint you an accurate picture of Hebron, you need to know that there are approximately 400 children. Fifty percent of these children are living below the poverty level. In Hebron there is one school, one bank, one park, three churches, one local pizzeria, and one mini food market. (And that is about it!) Studies show that between the hours of 3:00 – 6:00 PM every day, students are most likely to experiment with alcohol and drugs, violence, and criminal and sexual behavior. If you were to drive through Hebron at this time of day, you can see plenty of children walking home from school, many of whom are unsupervised for a few hours.
 
So here is where we came in: about five years ago, our directors, JoAnn and Erin, saw a need to offer the children of Hebron a place to be supervised. They wanted to create a place for children to be fed, a place to be mentored, a place to be nurtured, encouraged, academically supported and a place to build character. And from that, the Epoch Dream Center was born!

Each day, when students arrive at the Dream Center they immediately participate in what we call the “Epoch Mantra.” They say in unison this declaration that they will have a positive, productive and purposeful time at our center that day. They then have a snack, have a “family meeting” (relationship building time) with their class, and they read for twenty minutes every night. Our students complete their homework, spend time with their interest-oriented club, have gym time, eat a family style dinner and participate in family chores.
 
So what makes Epoch different than any other after school program? One reason, is mentoring. We believe that relationships are the key to everything with our kids. We put so much effort in building relationships with our students because when we do that, we then have the right to speak life, influence behavior, and catalyze change in our students. To take this a step farther, we match every student with a personal mentor of their same gender who visits for at least an hour every single week. What better way is there to build relationships with these precious kids than through mentoring?


Another way Epoch stands out among after school programs is because of our focus on nurturing. One of our main goals is to fill necessity gaps that a child might have while they are growing up. A common gap that we see is the need for nurturing and encouraging. So, we show up. We show up to every concert, every school play, every award ceremony, every field day. We show up to the funerals for grandparents and brothers; we cut their grass while they get back on their feet. We are in the schools every week visiting and collaborating with staff. We hold kids when they are sick and when they are sad. We celebrate with them through every passed test, every project they give their best in. We listen to their hearts. We listen to their dreams. We listen to their frustrations. We listen to their cries because that person let them down again. We hear them. We know them. We know how different and unique they are. 

Epoch is different because of our desire to serve as “family." When we think about our own childhoods and how we are raising our own children, one of the most influential factors at play is family. So, we thought to ourselves, how can we recreate this family atmosphere at Epoch? Here is what we decided: we make our program operate like our own families. Every day we talk about our days… not just the “how was your day at school” … “fine” conversations. We discuss them. We talk about what was great and what wasn’t, and how we can change it for tomorrow. We get to know each other and we learn how to participate in family discussion. We eat dinner as a family every night. Our kids participate in chores and have responsibilities just like they would in our own homes. We build a sense of belonging within and among our children because we know that this is one of their greatest needs. We have had so many of our children whisper to us: “Epoch feels like my family.”
And finally, Epoch is unique because of the values that we instill. We have something that we like to call the “Epoch Code.” This code is what guides our teachings, our behavior interventions, our intentionality and basically our whole program. If you come to Epoch, ask any child to say the Epoch Code and this is what they would tell you: Work Hard. Respect Authority. Love Everyone. Forgive Quickly. We hold each of these values very highly and we believe they are the key ingredients to make successful, enjoyable citizens! If our students learn anything from their time with us, we hope it is how to do these four things. 

 So here is where you come in!!!

We are always looking for more mentors (especially men!) and volunteers. If you are interested in finding out more about this, please contact Rachel ( rachel@epochdreamcenter.com ).
 

Although, our greatest need at the moment is financial. Our program is expanding, we are experiencing changes in funding, and we need a new financial avenue to keep our program running. Out of this we have created a child sponsorship campaign. We want to give you the opportunity to directly and positively impact the life of a child living in your own community! We have different sponsorship levels, as low as a $35 monthly gift to partially sponsor a child. There are multiple levels, all the way up to a complete monthly scholarship for a child at $300.

Would you consider sponsoring a child? Would you consider beginning a better story in the life of a child?

Maybe this could be something you do as a family, a small group, a club or a group of friends. Maybe this is something your church, religious group, or service organization could do? Think about this: if you could ensure that a child in your community, that goes to school with your children, could have access to the same nurturing, mentoring, encouraging, character development and basic human needs that your own kids have, why wouldn’t you do it?
 

 
We would love to come present our program and campaign to your group, just ask us! You can access specific information about sponsoring a child and more information about our program at our website, www.epochdreamcenter.com, and you can follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see what is happening day to day!