• Eric McIntosh

Mask On, Meet Your Neighbor

Month 1 Update

I challenged the team to meet 300 youth in the first month. Let’s see how we did.

It has been an exciting beginning of the year for new things. New sites, new partners, new kids, new program… well not a brand new program, just a program with some COVID-19 considerations to keep our youth and volunteers safe.

We have tried everything to engage with families with food distribution, craft days, paint afternoons, prayer walks, knocking on doors, and pool noodle fights. I guess the kids really like hitting Carlson, our site lead at the Courtyard, with pool noodles.

You may have heard of our three step process: programs → mentorship → leadership. But what if I told you there is actually a step that came before our three steps? And that is meeting the kids in the neighborhood!

One unique aspect about Care Fresno is that we are in the apartment complex and the neighborhood in which kids live. We have two locations where team members live there. They have the opportunity to become neighbors to the people in the community and to learn what it means to live there. We have four locations where team members don’t live there, but spend time there. They run the program at a center in the neighborhood and spend time meeting families, playing games with the youth, and interacting with parents. By being in the neighborhood we have the opportunity to become a part of the community. Because our team members serve 6, 10, 12, or even 16 hours a week; we have the time to spend in the community building relationships with the youth. It is these relationships that create life change.

Here are some photos of what we are doing.

A tree grew in the program room at the Courtyard. Probably some of the best decorating Care Fresno has ever seen.

Paint day at the Village apartments at Bethel. We are partnering with a church, Bethel Christian Center. I didn’t warn the team that the kids might paint on them.

Craft day at Martin Park. Care Fresno is serving in the Lowell community by partnering with Martin Park.

Our team brought the noodles and the kids showed up. Having fun in a socially distanced way in the neighborhood at Summerset.

Team serving food in the Hidalgo community. We are working with World Impact there to partner to reach the neighborhood.

Some good ‘ol fashion canvassing, knocking on doors. The team managed to meet 51 new youth just by knocking on doors. Luckily we found some kids who knew everyone to help us out.

16 team members (a few not included), and one month down, ready to serve the youth and families in Fresno. We managed to reach and exceed our goal of meeting 300 youth in our first month. Now is the time to build relationships with all of them, mentor them, learn about who they are, and make a positive impact.

And have fun doing it.