Verenice (Vere) cannot help but to smile. Everywhere she goes she is grinning ear to ear. Although she was extremely shy as an eight year old, nothing could ever stop her from greeting you with a smile. This was the case the first time she joined the Garnet After School Program and met Vanessa, an ASP volunteer.
In 2009, a group of concerned community members came into the Garnet office and asked…
"Can you help us create more programs that keep our kids off the streets?"
The urgency was reciprocated by the Solidarity staff. The neighborhood’s question ignited SOLFul, Fullerton’s city wide alternative to the loss of summer school. SOLFul is a collaboration of churches and neighborhood residents coming together to provide a 4-7 week summer program to over 500 students in four low income communities in Fullerton.
The resident’s anxiousness was fueled by a belief that the absence of summer school would lead to increased chances of their children getting into trouble. With no summer school, their children would be hanging out on the streets, bored, and a recruiting target for the local gangs.
When we stopped and listened to the community, Solidarity had a chance to experience amazing things. Collaborating with the neighborhood’s dreams and desires, Solidarity witnessed the residents becoming catalysts for their own community transformation.
God then moved within the local church through Fullerton ACT, a network of Fullerton church pastors. It was amazing to witness Fullerton churches empathize with the voiced need arising from the community. In 6 weeks, a city-wide program was created with zero resources. There were no supplies, no buildings, and no curriculum, but God provided everything necessary to pull of summer school in these four neighborhoods.
In the first year over 175 volunteers responded to the call from their pastors and joined SOLFul. The volunteers brought their own supplies and their own vision for programming to each neighborhood. SOLFul’s inaugural year provided the educational and enrichment programs necessary for the community. The Curch was the hands and feet of Jesus within difficult areas in the city.
However, each year the volunteer support has dropped, even while the demand for more SOLFul sites and students participation continues to rise.
This is an amazing opportunity to care for and serve our city.
We need your help to do it.
God has provided a clear path for us as His Church to engage the marginalized within our city. Hundreds of lives are being enriched, challenged and transformed. There is an opportunity to move beyond needs-based-service and to start developing transformative relationships that both display and reflect the heart of Jesus .
This all starts with a simple step of involvement.