From the Executive Director . . . .
I pray that this newsletter finds you well.
The summer is fast coming to a close. August has been a time for UFM staff to slow down a bit, reflect on our summer activities, regroup and begin planning for our fall and winter programs.
One of the highlights of the summer was our neighborhood carnival held on July 18. Some of our teens and one of our moms, Wendy, and her kids passed out about 300 fliers earlier that week. Amway Corporation provided over 40 of their summer interns as our volunteer help for the afternoon.
The weather was perfect this year…actually, quite hot in fact. Volunteers were stationed at various lawn games, bounce houses, a dunk tank, a food station serving grilled hotdogs, sno-cones and popcorn, an arts-n-crafts station, and a face painting station. Attendance was good with many neighboring children, even their moms and some dads too.
While we were setting up the lawn games and food stations, Rinaldo, a young man I’d never met, stopped by. He looked to be about 17 or 18 and just asked what was going on. I told him we were setting up for a carnival. “Well, I called in sick to work today,” he said. “You sure don’t look sick!” I replied. “I’m not…but I guess I just needed a carnival!” he replied with a grin. Rinaldo stayed for the entire carnival and helped out in many ways! He kept coming over and asking what he could do to help. He was so enthusiastic and happy, and I had a blast just watching as he helped little kids cross the road, squirted people with water, and helped the volunteers with the large bounce house.
Shortly after the carnival began, four young men between the ages of 17-25 walked up. Three of the four wore tethers. Some of the volunteers noticed this and expressed concern. What was incredible to watch was the huge grins on the faces of these men as they watched people having a water fight, watched kids throwing balls to hit the target on the dunk tank, and as they waited hesitantly in the line hoping to each get a sno-cone. After they had been around for about 1 ½ hours, one of the younger guys, Tony, came up to me to ask if he was allowed to get his face painted. What a delight to watch young men be “kids” for just a little while. He indeed got a star on his face and wore a grin from ear to ear as he and his friends walked away.
We thank God for the opportunity to be His light in this neighborhood and to meet and get to know the children and families that walk by our ministry center every day. It is a joy to listen to their personal stories and to let them know that God loves them and that we and many others are praying for them. And we thank YOU for your prayers and gifts of support that help us continue to be God’s light.
“Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” Proverbs 15:30
“Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” Philemon 1:7
To God be all the Glory!
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!””
Recent Happenings . . . .
A Note from the Executive Director . . . .
After spending a great deal of time in prayer, talking with my wife and seeking wise counsel, I have decided to step down as Urban Family Ministries’ executive director (effective August 31, 2013). I have informed the UFM Board of my decision at the April 30 board meeting and the volunteers who attended the May 18 Volunteer Appreciation dinner.
During my time at Urban Family Ministries, my hope was to cultivate a culture of value for the staff, volunteers, and UFM Board of Directors, and to present UFM as one of the many wonderful tools used by God in the urban community. All the memories of telling Bible stories at Super Saturday, pounding the pavement with volunteers every Thursday afternoon to collect prayer requests, and praying for neighbors in the urban community will not be forgotten. The staff I work with and the people I have made connections with here are second to none and make leaving even more difficult. However, I am thankful I will not be far from UFM and the urban community.
Recently a local Christian high school, The Potter’s House, approached me about filling a need in their school. The Potter’s House is an urban Christian school dedicated to educating students from all walks of life. I will be the Dean of Students and will help in guiding the spiritual formation of staff and students K – 12. I look forward to connecting The Potter’s House and UFM in the future.
I will be available to help as needed in the hiring and transition process for the next executive director. I pray the good foundation that was laid before I came and that was further built upon during my tenure will flourish in the next season of this ministry. For Urban Family Ministries, I truly believe the best is yet to come.
During this time of transition, Noelle Gable, a long-time UFM staff member, will assume the role of Interim Executive Director until a new Executive Director is hired.
Summer Camp 2013
Over a 7 week period, we sent 104 children to several summer camps. They spent time at Grace Adventures, SpringHill Camp and at our newest camp partner, Camp Michawana. Thank you to everyone who sponsored a child! Remember to pray for their continued spiritual growth.
Some of the comments we heard as the kids were writing their thank you letters to their sponsors were . . . .
“It was fun to learn about God in a different way.” “I want to keep you in my prayers for the rest of my life because I was changed this week!”
“I believe I heard God’s Word as I was washing dishes.”
“As for the topic of God, I guess in a sense that I have recommitted myself to God. It was more like reconstructing my relationship with God. And I also plan to read through the entire Bible.”
“I learned that Jesus is the REAL King!”
Our last Wild Wednesday has come and gone. The children have enjoyed another great summer filled with Bible stories, singing, games and always a lot of fun.
This summer’s focus has been going back to the basics. We have been telling some of the basic Bible stories that we all know and grew up with. For many of our children, this was the first time they heard these foundational stories.
We’d like to introduce our newest Wild Wednesday volunteers, Brianna Kulfan and her parents, Bruce and Amy Kulfan, Diane Perkins and Justin DeKoekkoek. Thank you for willing hands and hearts and for reflecting Christ’s love to our kids this summer.
Thank you to Kids Food Basket for supplying the bag meals for the children this summer. The kids couldn’t wait to peek in the bags to see what goodies they were bringing home.
Opportunities . . . .
The “Living Room” is Coming!
The Living Room will be here at the Urban Family Ministries youth center two days a week after school. Students of all ages are welcome to come use this safe space to do homework, get homework help, play games and develop community with fellow students. We are dreaming of having a computer lab, a snack shack, and an opportunity to be open more than 2 days a week!
If you would like to know more about the Living Room or are interested in helping with the set up, provide a snack or volunteering 1 day a week, email Heidi Chinn or give her a call at 365-9009.
Get Better Equipped to Serve – Sept. 14
Current volunteers in any UFM program, as well as past volunteers and anyone interested in learning more about volunteering at Urban Family Ministries are invited to attend our next “Equipping to Serve” workshop. This workshop is just 1 1/2 hours long and is designed to better prepare volunteers to come alongside inner city children and their families.
Give our office a call or email Peggy to learn more about the next workshop, which is scheduled for September 14, 2013. It will be held in the gym at Calvary Church from 3:30pm-5:00pm.
“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
Super Saturday to start Sept. 28
We are now making plans for Super Saturday. It will be held in the gym at Calvary Church on the East Beltline. However, we are trying something new this season…a new start time! Super Saturday will run from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, which frees up Saturday evenings for our volunteers. Come and hang out with our kids and mingle with a purpose.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can help, email Noelle or give our office a call at (616) 365-9009.
How You Can Help . . . .
Partner with UFM . . . .
- As a Prayer Partner, pray daily for the work God is doing through Urban Family Ministries here in Grand Rapids.
- Have you considered partnering with us as a regular monthly supporter? We now offer automatic monthly withdrawals from your bank account that you can change or stop at any time. Just download and print a form and mail, fax or email it back to the office. You can also donate online from our secure website using Paypal (you don’t have to be registered with Paypal to use it). Your regular monthly support enables us to continue to strengthen families and change lives.
- Help support UFM by doing your online shopping through eScrip, which offers links to hundreds of name-brand store websites. Go to www.escrip.com to register or sign in and shop. eScrip will donate from 2% to 16% to UFM based on your purchase.
- Shop at Family Fare or D&W Fresh Markets during their Cash for Class event September 22-28 and a percentage of your purchase will be credited to Urban Family Ministries by using your Yes card. Be sure to link UFM to your Yes card as your selected non-profit. Visit Spartan Stores website to learn more about Cash for Class.
- As a Volunteer….see some of our immediate volunteer needs below.
Volunteers Needed . . . .
- Drivers, Co-Pilots & Substitute Drivers – Drive a UFM van and help with student pick up for Super Saturday or the Cornerstone Connection, or Teen Night or ride along as co-pilot. We have an urgent need for substitute drivers. As it stands right now, if a driver calls in sick, we have to cancel that van route for the evening and those children would be unable to attend our program. Call our office for more information at 365-9009 or email Noelle.
- Super Saturday – It will be held in the gym at Calvary Church, beginning September 28. Note the new time: It will run from 3:30pm-5:00pm. Come and hang out with our kids and mingle with a purpose. Contact our office to get signed up.
- Facility Cleaning – We’re looking for someone that would have a couple of hours a week to come and do some light cleaning….vacuum, dust, bathrooms.
- Landscape Maintenance – We can always use some help keeping our landscape litter free and a little weeding from time to time.
Contact Peggy at our office at 365-9009 if you would like to know more about volunteering.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
Prayer & Praises . . . .
Pray With Us . . .
- Pray for God’s guidance as we search for a new Executive Director.
- Pray for safety on the road during all UFM programs.
- Pray for our weekly prayer walks in the neighborhood around our ministry center.
- Pray for the children and families that will be impacted by the message of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for UFM staff and volunteers, that we will have the energy needed to do the work God has put before us, and that we continue to seek Him first in all things.
- Pray for the Lord’s direction as we desire to use this facility God has given us to more effectively minister to our urban neighbors.
- Pray for us as we seek out grant and funding opportunities.
We Praise God . . .
- For the opportunity to reflect Christ in our neighborhood.
- For every one of our donors! “For you have been partners in spreading the Good News about Christ…..” Philippians 1:5
- For our many volunteers who faithfully serve each week.
- For our partnerships with many area churches.
- For the impact summer camp has had on many of our children.
“Not to us, LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1