Dignity vs. Dependency: 
How One Akron Ministry is Changing Their Community Part Three – 2010-04-26

By: Katie Sobiech

During the last two weeks we’ve touched on Urban Vision’s (UV) philosophy, how they approach the needs in their community, and the tremendous growth of their after school programs. Along with all of those things, UV continues to add goals, programs, and people to their outreach.

Living among the people they serve has allowed UV to see first-hand what the community needs, what works, and how to raise up successful students who will one day become our next generation of leaders.

Some additions to their outreach include Kid’s Club, leadership training, sports teams, a summer program, and classes for parents. With a holistic approach, UV continues to seek to restore the community and build relationships across racial and economic barriers.

Outreach to Parents

UV isn’t just for kids, it’s tailored to fit parent’s needs as well.

English and health classes are available every week for refugee parents, many of which are struggling with their ability to understand the English language. These language barriers hinder their lives in many ways, particularly in receiving proper health care and finding work.

“We added the component of working with the parents because there was a need to communicate to them. They are looking for jobs and have to know English,” Jodi said.

She continued, “I had always hoped that one day I would be a missionary going across the seas, but it is so exciting to be a part of this city and how these different cultures come here. It’s sort of the same thing (as being a missionary) because you have to build relationships, go to the people and build that trust. We actually started English class on the front porch of someone’s house because they were very intimidated to come to the building.”

Reaching out to the community and building relationships is key. Once that is established, families feel more comfortable coming to the UV building to explore more.

Classes touch on relevant issues, including health and safety.

“We have a registered nurse that comes and talks about the flu, washing hands, dental hygiene and things like that,” Jodi said.

“There is a big barrier when moms are going to the hospitals and can’t communicate,” Rodney added.

“It’s hard with medical terms and for them to know how to communicate something in English,” Jodi explained, “but through this we’ve had the opportunity to build relationships and share Christ with them too, so its been exciting. We’ve seen a lot.”

Kid’s Club

Kid’s Club meets every Saturday from 8:30 to11:45 a.m., averaging about 30 kids more than last year.

“The whole philosophy is building leaders and we feel that it starts when they’re little,” Jodi said.

During Kid’s Club they experience a rotation of activities and lessons. About 100 kids in 5th grade and under currently attend. They do crafts, have gym, quiet time, Bible memory time and are given opportunities to serve, such as cleaning up the neighborhood.

“We want to teach the kids just to be quiet and reflect in God’s word,” Jodi said of their quiet time.

One Akron University professor now helps volunteer every weekend.

“It’s been a real big blessing that God’s connected us with. There’s a big need. We need people to help and connect with,” Jodi said.

They are also now working with a woman from another organization whose sole focus is to connect with the Karen (Burmese) community.

“She’s connected with us so that we can work, network and partner with her and she does a great job,” Jodi said.

Next Phase

Once graduated from Kid’s Club, students in sixth grade and up begin the Indigenous Teen Leadership Development Program. Here they are taught the basics of faith on three levels that continue to get deeper.

Jeff Smith, a missionary who spent 8 years in Turkey, is now heading up the program.

“Jeff is using here what he taught converts to Christianity in Turkey, which is the basics of the foundation of what he’s doing,” Rodney said.

The program is called “What it’s all about” with the main focus on building leaders who will have an impact on the community 10, 20, 30 years from now.

“If we have 10 people and get 100% of them that’s great, but if we have 200 people here now and we only get 5 that come back, I’d rather have the 10 because they are going to make more of an impact on this community than the 200…and that’s the whole concept behind the money system – that we don’t want to just keep giving, we want to see you transformed so that you can help and we can help the next person,” Rodney explained.

An intense Bible fellowship is available for those who really want to develop and grow in their relationship with God. Twenty teens have been actively involved for the past 8 months.

“They really want to learn and know about God and what does this mean for me in my life in 2010 in this community and how do I live that out,” Jodi said.

Along with instilling faith into the youth they provide opportunities for fun and growth throughout the summer. During their summer program the kids can take voice, guitar and piano lessons, join their choir, cooking classes, soccer, volleyball and basketball.

“We have a really great time,” Jodi said.

 

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