Looking Back

by Amy B.

                 The PEACE Program keeps growing. It is exciting to see all the new ways that we are starting to expand and change. But just as it is important to look forward, I think it’s also valuable to look back. In the midst of administrative meetings and talking about the next steps for PEACE in the future, I have been finding myself looking back to PEACE’s first steps.

                  We started the afterschool program in a small community room.  Thinking back, I realize it seemed so big to me then, but compared to our space today, it wouldn’t even take up half of one of our classrooms. With a small table and a handful of chairs, our floor space was pretty much maximized. On opening day of the program, we started with two kids, a brother and a sister, whose big personalities and boundless energy quickly filled our small room.  We had no snack, no structure, and no idea what we were doing. We did have passion, pencils, and a stack of construction paper. We were ready for anything.

                   Each day, one craft, one math paper, one meltdown at a time, we learned. We added a reward system for kids who completed their homework. We set a schedule: homework first, then snack, then activities. We recruited a few volunteers. And, we made a home.  One of my fondest memories from those days is looking into the face of small kindergartner as I tried to explain to him why he could not “spend the night at our house (the community room)”  because we didn’t actually live there. He was so convinced that this place was a home and wanted so badly to stay that we couldn’t get him to leave.  The kids who walked through the doors of my heart in those days still come to my mind every so often, and they still have someone who is praying for them and loving them, even if they don’t know it.

                    We didn’t have a logo or a website back then. Our “sign” was a painted piece of yellow butcher paper taped over a piece of poster board that we set out on a bench. It had its share of being kicked, thrown, punched, and spit on but somehow still lasted. We didn’t have fundraising drives or budget allotments back then. We had a mom from our church who would show up with a bag of juice boxes from time to time, the director who would buy crackers with his pizza delivery tips, and a generously donated pallet of caramel fiber bars that never seemed to run out.

                     Many things have changed since the days when 8 kids walking through the door meant a busy day ahead. We have more structure, more volunteers, and many more children, but hopefully the heart we carry for each child is still the same.  We still have passion and lots of pencils, but our vision stretches a little further than it used to. Above all, I hope that our new space, though bigger and fuller, is still a home.

1 Comment

  1. God is in this and it is encouraging to see what has come since the early days. I am reminded that we should never despise the day of small beginnings. God’s plan is always amazing!

    Home. An important thing. God provided that!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *