This year's Fall Ball theme was "Help me write my story," during which we invited attendees into the Care Fresno story and shared stories with them. Every story has a setting and the setting for the Care Fresno story is the neighborhoods in which we live. As part of Fall Ball, guests were taken on a journey through each of the Care Fresno sites and neighborhoods to get to know the settings of the Care Fresno story and those whose story we are helping to write. Representatives from each site shared statistics regarding their neighborhood, anecdotes from their experience, and the passion that fuels their service.
In every setting, in order to write their story, kids need to be able to read and write. They need someone who will read to them so they can learn how to read and begin to see themselves in a story as their imagination takes off. They need to see stories modeled and then be prompted to write their own. Similarly, kids need to see real life models of the type of story they want to embody. They need help processing their experiences in a way that enables them to write and share their story. This is part of the reason why mentors are so important - they provide kids with an example to look up to while guiding them through where they are today. Mentorship is a huge opportunity by which to help someone write their story.
Kids need to embrace their story in order to write and share it. They need to know they are valuable and have a story worth sharing. Every kid needs to know that he or she is loved by God and created to have a relationship with Him. If the Gospel Story is the Greatest Story ever told, I’ve heard that the Second Greatest Story is an individual’s own story of God at work in his or her life. As I spend time in stories and settings riddled with poverty, crime, and injustice, I want to not only change statistics that dictate a kid’s life, but I also want to invite kids into God's story of redemption by introducing them to the Master Storyteller who has a plan and purpose for them.
Being a part of Care Fresno is an invitation to enter the story of these kids’ lives, to be a part of positive scenes and a positive character in their novel. It’s an invitation to change the trajectory of the story that society and statistics claims is theirs. Care Fresno neighborhood programs give us opportunities to meet kids and get to know them. We are then able to build relationships with these kids outside of program hours and mentor specific ones. Through this, we strive to develop leaders who will in turn invest in others and change the story of their setting. At the same time, as I help write these stories, the plot line to my own story is developing, my story is becoming entangled with theirs, and I find that those I live and serve with are in turn helping me write my story in a more beautiful way than I could have imagined.