As I stepped to the window to sign the Volunteer Sign-in register, I felt a lump rise in my throat and a wave of sadness suddenly swept over me. I had come for the year-end celebration for our Kid’s Hope Mentoring program. In previous years when I had served as a school mentor, it was normal for the end of a school to bring a mix of emotions, but this felt different. The sadness was deeper and more profound.
I suddenly realized it wasn’t just the end of a school year. For the students, faculty, and staff of Meadowcliff Elementary, it was the last week before their school closed permanently. Next year students will be dispersed to different schools. A few teachers and staff were talking about new assignments, some were still waiting to hear where they would be, and others were uncertain about what next year would bring.
I picked up my mentee from his classroom and joined the other mentors and their students on the playground for games and ice cream. We laughed, had fun, and remembered the year together. As our time ended, Jay (not his real name), looked up at his mentor, Kent, and ask a question neither of us will ever forget, “Will I ever see you again?” Jay’s question went deeper than “it’s the end of the year”, or even “we won’t be at this school next year.” He knew that this summer he was moving to another state.
His grandfather had brought him and his two brothers to Arkansas less than a year ago to protect them from a difficult family situation. He loved his grandsons and needed help so he took a bold step. He asked the school if there was any way his grandsons could have a mentor. Through a CityChurch Network Vital Families in Schools Partnership, Jay was matched with Kent and their mentoring relationship flourished.
Jay’s question, “Will I ever see you again?” is a glimpse of the impact a mentoring relationship can have on the lives of students and families who need a little extra support. That one-hour per week mentoring time not only helped strengthen Jay’s family, but it was also transforming for Kent and brought the hope of Christ into the school.
Thank you, Kent, and thank you to all who served in the 39 Vital Families in Schools partnerships this past year. You brought good to our city and glory to God through your service.
As we look ahead to the 2022-23 school year, there are hundreds of families like Jay’s who need support and it is a great way for our churches to show and proclaim the love of Christ in our communities. For both the existing VFS partners and those who will be launching for the first time, the upcoming 2022 Vital Families in Schools Summit on July 30th will be a great way to prepare for the coming year.