WHEW! So much has happened in just a few months, so as it seems. I started this gig as the Director/Pastor of Monroe Circle Community Center, a.k.a. MC3, just over 9 months ago. And WOW! What a run it has been. I love my job. I get to sit on the front row and witness first hand God’s grace, mercy, and love. I get to see a despairing gaze turn to eyes full of hope. I get to experience, from my seat, the feelings of worthlessness give way to purpose. But, what I see up close doesn’t always show in the data. The data is still alarming. The data, whenever it moves, tends to move opposite of the intended direction. I’m exhausted whenever I look at the data… wondering…  “Will it ever get better? Are the problems oppressing this community beyond our reach, beyond the scope of our abilities?” Honestly, sometimes I don’t know.

MC3 Afterschool Program implemented improvisational skits, games, and story telling. This young man is sporting one of the costumes the GCC drama team brought in.

MC3 Afterschool Program implemented improvisational skits, games, and story telling to help development comprehension skills. This young man is sporting one of the costumes the GCC drama team brought in.

But there is another story developing, appearing to oppose the story the current data is screaming. This other story often do not get the press but brings renew vigor to the wearied soul. Like the rumbling of a distant thunderstorm, this seemingly hidden story is gaining ground and if you are looking, can be found in the heart and eyes of one child, one mom, one dad, one grandma or grandpa,  one… after one… after one… It is this story that gives us hope, strength, and courage to continue… It is my purpose that this post will help you feel “the rumbling” underneath the chaos…God in the midst of His story being played out at Monroe Circle and Edison Gardens.

Most of the children who participates in many of the Son City Kids programs at MC3 attend Madison Primary Center in South Bend, In. The Principal of the school, commenting on the impact the community center is having on the kids and families living in Monroe Circle, stated “Expectation has been the one piece that had been missing.” She further claimed that Parents, who did not expect that there kids would or could go to college, now believe it is possible. They now expect that their children can go to college.” But the

Rebecca Mashon, SBCSC LEAP teacher running kids through exercise to help improve reading expressions. Ms Mashon has accepted an Assistant Principle position. We will miss her. Especially the kids.

Rebecca Mashon, SBCSC LEAP teacher running kids through exercise to help improve reading expressions. Ms Mashon has accepted an Assistant Principal position. We will miss her. Especially the kids.

“expectation” piece was not limited to just their kids. The Principal told us the story of one of the mothers who had recently obtained her GED who asked her, “Mrs. Buysee, do you think I’m to old to go to college?” 125 adults were enrolled in the MC3 GED program in the spring semester of 2010. Rumble… rumble. The MC3 Afterschool program and the MC3 GED classes are provided through the collaborations and partnership we have through the South Bend Community School Corporation.

Phil Thorton lives in the Monroe Circle community. For the last 3 years he has been on dialysis. Phil is a high capacity individual who has many abilities. Because of his health, he is living in public housing. He goes in for his treatments 3 times per week, He is currently waiting for a kidney. In spite of his condition, he is one of the most encouraging people I know and always wears a smile.

MC3 Resident poet and all around generous guy.

MC3 Resident poet and all around generous guy.

He writes poetry and has a poetry website. He recently has been named an Author for poetry in the Library of Congress. Phil continues to look for ways to give back to the community. He volunteers during the weekly “MC3 Gathering” event by reciting his poetry and he also helps with the clean up after the event. Rumble… rumble

JOBS –       JOBS      –       JOBS

Lee Byers, of Byers Consulting, facilitating one of the job screening orientation meetings. Lee does a great job encouraging and inspiring each person who attends. They receive hope and affirmation of God's purpose for their lives. But he also stresses accountability. There is a lot of fatherly advice and "real talk."

Lee Byers, of Byers Consulting, facilitating one of the job screening orientation meetings. Lee does a great job encouraging and inspiring each person who attends. They receive hope and affirmation of God's purpose for their lives. But he also stresses accountability. There is a lot of fatherly advice and "real talk."

Salvation Army was awarded a HUNK OF CHANGE when Joan Kroc, the widow of the hamburger mogul who owned McDonalds, died. And South Bend was selected to be be one of the sites for the state-of-the-art community center. The construction project will take 18 months and will create job opportunities. Salvation army has set in order an initiative to ensure that people from the community would have an opportunity to get these jobs. Because the construction is near the Monroe Circle community, we were asked if we could partner with them to facilitate job screenings for this project. I was asked how many people I could get from our community to attend an orientation meeting. I said I could get approximately 30 people. I WAS WRONG! To date, after 6 orientation meetings (and more are scheduled), we have processed over 320 men and women. Although there are only 80 jobs available, we will use this project to help create other job opportunities. Rumble…rumble.

The Son City Kids sports program has been a tremendous success this year. The program provided the team with invaluable opportunities to mentor young men and women as well as engage their parents. We began with the basketball camp during the winter (Please see previous postings). This summer we also conducted a soccer camp. The soccer camp were put on by Bruno and Lisa DeJesus. Approximately 15-20 kids were involved. Two of the kids received a scholarship to attend Bethel College soccer camp. The season ended with a banquet where the young men and women received trophies and new soccer balls.

The Soccer Camp taught 6 pillars: Dream, Faith, Perseverance, Excellence, Selflessness, and Responsibility.

The Soccer Camp taught 6 pillars: Dream, Faith, Perseverance, Excellence, Selflessness, and Responsibility.

Here we are. Half way through August already. Where did the summer go? This was a busy summer for the Son City Kids’ programs. The Sport camps, Springhill Day Camp, Carnival, Son City Kids weekend, Fun Fridays, Boot Camp, and Jump Start sprinkled in with an outing here and there provided productive and quality time to love, challenge, and direct the kids, whether they were at Edison Gardens or Monroe Circle Community Center. It has been a summer, heck, it has been 9 months well spent… “Bringing up there, down here.”

Finally, I must give credit where it is due. The “unsung heroes,” the volunteers who unselfishly sacrifice  themselves continuously to love “up close,” whether it was carrying food boxes for an elderly Food Pantry patron, or  coaching and mentoring men and women transitioning out of prison and overcoming addictions. I could not do anything without them. Honestly, I’m just not that smart. Many of them are doing double and triple duties. Why? For these volunteers, MC3 and Edison Gardens isn’t a place they go serve, its a place where they are doing life with their friends… with Jesus’ friends.

LeRoy

Young Budding Artist in the Afterschool program. And yes...he did draw and colored this picture.

Young Budding Artist in the Afterschool program. And yes...he did draw and colored this picture.

Shelley Templin is the superstar Son City Kid's site leader at Edison Gardens. She has an amazing team. And the little guy on her lap can light up a room with his smile.

Shelley Templin is the superstar Son City Kid's site leader at Edison Gardens. She has an amazing team. And the little guy on her lap can light up a room with his smile.

Bible lesson time during Son City Kids Edison Garden's event

Bible lesson time during Son City Kids Edison Garden's event

Edison Gardens Son City Kids at Springhill Day camp. Hangin out with Amy, a Son City Kids Volunteer and also on the children ministry staff at GCC.Edison Gardens Son City Kids at Springhill Day camp. Hangin out with Amy, a Son City Kids Volunteer and also on the children ministry staff at GCC.
Son City Kids Carnival at Monroe Circle. Fun, food, and family = Good timeSCK Carnival 2

Son City Kids Carnival at Monroe Circle. Fun, food, and family = Good time

GSM students, "Move 2010" came to MC3 to serve in the community for 2 days. Day 1- organized and clean storage. Day 2- working in Alfreda's Helping Hands community garden (see previous post about the community garden to read Alfreda's story.)

GSM students, "Move 2010" came to MC3 to serve in the community for 2 days. Day 1- organized and clean storage. Day 2- working in Alfreda's Helping Hands community garden (see previous post about the community garden to read Alfreda's story.)

Antwon and Javon serves as Garden captains. Antwon approached Sara Steward, director of Unity Gardens, if she will mentor him in gardening. He loves it. Sara stated Antwon and Javon are just as good or better than most of the adult gardeners she has.

Antwon and Javon serves as Garden captains. Antwon approached Sara Steward, director of Unity Gardens, if she will mentor him in gardening. He loves it. Sara stated Antwon and Javon are just as good or better than most of the adult gardeners she has.

Javon is jumping in showing leadership.

Javon is jumping in showing leadership.

Learning about reptiles up close and personal, during Fun Friday. An hands on experience... literally!
Learning about reptiles up close and personal, during Fun Friday. An hands on experience… literally!
These teenagers serve hard. They always help to serve the younger kids. Here they are at the SCK sports banquet, cooking, wait tables, and be with the kids.

These teenagers serve hard. They always help serve the younger kids. Here they are at the SCK sports banquet, cooking, waiting tables, and just being with the kids.

Girl! What's that you got in your hand? That's a diploma! YOU GO GIRL! One of our Son City Teens graduated from South Bend Adams High School this year. What an amazing feat.

Girl! What's that you got in your hand? That's a diploma! YOU GO GIRL! One of our Son City Teens graduated from South Bend Adams High School this year. What an amazing feat.

1 Comments

  • August 24, 2010 Reply

    Kim Volheim

    LeRoy,
    Thanks for sharing what’s going on. Your teams are doing the work of Jesus every day. Thanks for lifting up your volunteers too! I heard about the free haircuts and school supplies! YOU GUYS ROCK!

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