A Learning Experience

This semester we had an awesome UNLV intern, Ryan. Below he shares what he learned over the course of the semester. 
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My Practicum experience with Club Christ has been one of growing appreciation. It started off busy from the get-go and that remained consistent the whole time; it has been the kind of busy that makes you feel important and capable though. In the beginning I was a little unsure how well Club Christ would align in what I was trying to learn in regards to Social Work experience. About half way through the semester I started to understand the lessons that Club Christ had to offer and my appreciation for the agency grew immensely. I began to realize how tutoring positively affects students in both the short-and long-term. The kids are being taught good study habits and discipline, which helps them with their grades and helps them to cultivate important life skills. Working with the kids has been amazing; especially when I started to develop a relationship with them. The moments I have appreciated the most though are the weekly staff meetings. It is during these meetings that I realize how much I learned the previous week and I have the chance to discuss academic and social techniques to help the kids.
IMG_3225One student in particular who has really impacted me is a 3rd grader named Paul. When I first started working with him, I struggled. Paul rarely listened to me and was even kicked out of the Center a few times for his attitude. Then I decided to try and develop a positive non-authoritative relationship with him, in hopes he would be more compliant with a “friend” than he is with a director. His attitude changed so quickly; I was amazed! Since that moment, Paul has become a lot more helpful, friendly, and positive. He has shown me that what we are doing at Club Christ is really having an impact on the kids.
Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light. 
                                           -Norman B. Rice

Five Reasons Why You Should Share Your Story

This semester Club Christ wanted to inspire the young people in our teen leadership program to dream bigger than they ever have, so we decided to tap into the power of stories.

Every week our teens hear a 30-minute story from someone in our local community who has overcome adversity to reach their dreams. And you know what? They absolutely LOVE it. You could hear a pin drop in our Centers because the kids are so enthralled with the compelling nature of true stories.

Here are five reasons you should share your story with a young person in your life:

  1. Powerful Stories are Biblical

Instead of a book full merely of rules and laws, God gave us a book full of stories: heroic adventures, epics, parables, and comic and tragic tales. Before the Bible was written, it was spoken and passed on through the ancient Hebrew’s oral culture. So when you tell your story you not only reflect God’s nature, you get to point to the Creator’s handiwork in your personal journey. Young people need to hear God-centered stories so they know what is possible and what is true.

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  1. Powerful Stories Teach

Sometimes a good story is better than just telling a kid, “Alright here is what you should do.” The principal of Mojave High School came by our LV Center last week and shared how perseverance pays off. His parents divorced when he was young and so he split his time in Arizona as “the white kid” or in Wyoming as “the Mexican kid”- never fitting in with either crowd. He grew up without a lot of money, but knew he wanted better, so he worked hard, both academically and athletically. As an adult, he knew God was calling him back to a community to serve those students who grew up like he did. He finished his story by challenging the teens to work hard and trust in God, who will work it all together in the end.

  1. Powerful Stories Build Bridges

I admit our students could be intimidating at first. One of the best ways to connect with them is to share your story so they can get to know you. This is a generation who is addicted to powerful true stories. Just look at all “amazing human” videos that go viral every day. By sharing your story you can connect with just about anyone. In fact, the teens are surprised by how much they’ve had in common with each guest speaker thus far!

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  1. Powerful Stories Inspire

One simple story that I overheard in college changed my life forever. It was the end of my freshman year and I was a brand new Christian. It was at a conference and we were simply eating lunch when a guy shared about how amazing his “dorm ministry” was. And the idea popped in my head, “I should move into the dorms next year at UNLV!” The thought had never crossed my mind because I was living at home like all my friends. I did move to the dorms that next year and providentially I met the person who co-founded Club Christ with me because she too lived in the dorms! If I hadn’t heard that story my life could have been radically different. Sharing your story with a student in their formidable years will undoubtedly spark their imagination and expand their horizon.

  1. Powerful Stories are Maps

If you want to drive somewhere you have never been before what’s the first thing you do? You pull up a map on your phone to give you the directions you need. When a teenager has a desire to work hard and be successful, they still need our help. I love sharing my dating story with young people: how Vanessa and I met at church, the fact that we decided not to kiss until our wedding day, the bumps along the way, and what marriage means to me. I know that most teens have a different picture in their mind than the one I get to share and their image is often tainted by the world’s awful standards. By sharing your story you can provide another route for them to travel on and that is such a blessing for both of you!

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And now the question is, who will you share your story with?If you are interested in being a guest speaker at an upcoming leadership workshop at Club Christ, please contact us at info@clubchrist.org.

“Good words are worth much and cost little.”

-George Herbert

 

 

 

Dynamic Duo: Ms. Dayle & Chris

One of the components to our success is our volunteers and we truly believe we have the best of the best. They faithfully serve every week and love on the kids. One of these very special bonds is exemplified by Ms. Dayle and Chris.

IMG_2083Ms. Dayle has been volunteering at the Las Vegas Center for almost two years. She began volunteering in order to fulfill her community service hours for school, but loved it so much that she continued to serve! Ms. Dayle is now a senior in high school and plans on attending University of Colorado-Boulder in the fall. She has been such a wonderful and positive presence in the Center and we will greatly miss her. Chris is a first grader who absolutely adores Ms. Dayle. He always asks to work with her and there is a lot of learning and laughter between the two of them!

Why do you like working with each other? 

Chris: Ms. Dayle is a fun teacher. She is nice and funny and she always helps me with my homework. Plus she lets me go on her phone and take silly pictures once I finish my work. IMG_2086

Ms. Dayle: We have always worked together since I started volunteering so we have a lot of inside jokes and a lot of fun together. When I first met him, he was singing a Romeo Santos song and I told him I knew the song, so that was the first bonding moment we shared! A special memory I have is when I gave him a girl name, “Christina”, which he “hates” (but secretly loves). Now whenever he is distracted or not working, I call him “Christina” and he knows he has to get back on track! I’ve loved volunteering at Club Christ because of the positive influence I can have on the kids. 

We love you Ms. Dayle!

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” 

-Martin Luther King Jr

 

 

 

“I’m Scared…”

“There’s been a shooting in the neighborhood.  Everything is on lock down.  There are police everywhere.  I don’t know if we will be able to get back into the complex.”

These are words that rang in my ear just a few weeks ago. When I arrived at Club Christ, the scene was just as it had been described.  Cops everywhere, police tape- the whole nine yards.

It was gang related.

Fewer students showed up to Club Christ that day.  Some of the parents were afraid to let their kids come outside for fear of retaliation. As we ushered our students into the Center, there was non-stop chatter about what had happened.  I knew this situation had to be addressed; they needed to talk about how they felt and what they saw.

“Someone tell me what happened out there today.”

Maurice spoke up, “I was walkin’ across the street to Deshawn’s house and I saw this van speeding up to the complex.  I watched a man reach into his coat and I knew that it couldn’t be good.  Something told me to turn around and when I did, I saw my uncle on the ground.  He was screaming at me to run.  As soon as I shut the door to my house, I heard Pop-Pop-Pop.  It was really scary.  I thought I was going to get shot.”

Another student raised his hand and said, “Yeah, this man shot this other man and they had to take him away in an ambulance.  I’m scared, I don’t wanna get shot too.”

What shook me the most that day was what Isaiah said:

“It doesn’t bother me anymore.  It happens so much here; it’s pretty normal.  I don’t really even think about it.”

Isaiah was in fifth grade and was completely unphased by the gang violence in his neighborhood.  He heard Maurice’s story about almost being caught in the middle of gun crossfire, yet counted it as a “normal day.”

It pains me to think that retaliation, violence, and numbness to all of it is accepted here. Daily our children are being robbed of their innocence and are being taught by the actions of others what is “normal” and “okay.”

Yet, I am thankful. Days like these push me to take a stand and teach that love is the only thing that will break this cycle. When students arrive at the Center, they are learning about love and forgiveness and they are being raised up as leaders who will stand against injustice. We are providing them with a hope that will not only anchor them, but will guide them to break this vicious cycle.

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Lord, we pray that You protect these precious ones.  Remove the calluses from their hearts.  Let them heal this community with the power of your love. Amen.

This post was originally published in the January 2010 Club Christ newsletter and was written by Candace, the Center Director of the North Las Vegas Center. That Center was open for seven years in Carey Arms before the Complex was entirely demolished. 

He Will Restore

“If I walk into a church I’ll probably light up in flames!” This is a phrase I have said before and one that I hear other people say. I spent a good amount of my life unsure of God and what His purpose was. At times He seemed annoying, like He was always in everyone’s business and constantly trying to get in mine. Other times I thought He was a delusion that many people enjoyed entertaining because it brought some peace to them that they desperately needed in their life. But mostly I thought God was a jerk. He was rude, vain, and judgmental. And I believed that His particular enjoyment was watching others suffer as He sat around and did nothing.

But then, in my early 20s, I became a Christian, and as I slowly started to come into my faith I began to wrestle with the past perceptions I had of the God I now served. Contrary to popular belief most Christians always have one thing or another they are trying to “figure out” about God. One of my biggest struggles with God came crashing into me when I started working with Club Christ: “If God is love, how can he allow such great suffering?”

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In the hidden corners of Las Vegas I served children and families whose desperate need for basic necessities was at an all-time high. From physical needs to emotional ones, I saw more suffering in my five years at Club Christ than I ever thought I would.

Slowly I had these talks with God about suffering and how he was using it to shape the course of my life. I started to see suffering in new ways: I saw it as an opportunity for grace and for others to step in and serve. In no way am I undermining how terrible suffering is, but I’ve now realized there’s more to it.

1 Peter 5:10 says  “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 

It would be hard to serve a God who didn’t put his money where His mouth is (so to speak). If there was one person we can pinpoint in history who suffered, SO MUCH SO that in it, and through it, a ripple was caused that extends centuries and centuries past His time, that would be Jesus. My God suffered deeply, so when I read about His promise to restore me, I believe Him. When I read about His love for His people, I believe Him. When I study His magnitude and miraculous nature, I try not to doubt Him.

When I saw the hurt in the lives of the children and the families that I served,  I remembered His promise.

He WILL restore.

He WILL deliver.

He WILL provide.

And for the years I served at Club Christ, I saw that happen time and time again. For some I saw that happen in months, for others years, and for others I’m still praying. But there is a promise and that promise is real and it is mine to hold onto.

Written by Maryann Flynn, who served as the Las Vegas Center Director for four years. Maryann currently lives in Florida with her husband, daughter , and soon-to-be-born baby boy. She is Taylor Swift’s number-one fan and enjoys coffee, running, and spending time with her family. 

 

Tea Party Tips

Over the last few years, one of our fundraising events has been the Hearts for Hope tea. Over 300 ladies come together to indulge in savory and sweet snacks, enjoy a variety of tea, engage in bidding wars over silent auction items, and support Club Christ. We wanted to share some tips to help you host your own successful tea party; so pour yourself a cup of tea and read on!

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1. Toss Out the Bags

Believe it or not, the brown liquid from the tea bag is derived from tea dust.  Literally, it is the dust shed by the real tea leaves.  The flavor is harsher and it has a higher caffeine content.  Therefore, when hosting your own party, purchase loose-leaf tea and limit it to two flavors: one caffeinated and one caffeine-free. While distributers provide brewing instructions, the standard rule is one teaspoon of tea per teacup, plus an extra teaspoon for the pot.  Most teapots hold six 5-6 oz teacups; equaling seven teaspoons of tea into a strainer, herb bag or teabag.  If you don’t know where to purchase loose-leaf tea, check out the Little Candle Tea Company.

tea 22. Mix-up the Menu

The standard tea fare consists of egg salad, cucumber and dill sandwiches, and chicken sandwiches.  So switch it up for your guests!  Petite quiches, salads, light soups, and unique sandwiches are all interesting alternatives.  Check out a few recipes suggested by The Food Network.

3. Create an Experience

Whether you are welcoming a few friends or a couple dozen, a theme is a must.  Perhaps pick a beloved book, film, location, or Bible verse?  A specific color scheme can be fun, as can a pattern.  You can even ask your guests to dress to match and play a game in keeping with the theme.  Allow that theme to permeate everything from decor to menu items.  This is a unique opportunity to exercise your creativity and it presents a wonderful excuse to “pin” a few ideas on Pinterest.

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4. Prepare in Advance

At every dinner party or tea, last minute issues arise.  Whether it is a recipe that goes awry or bad weather, mishaps happen!  A general rule is to do as much the day before the event as possible!  Many salads (chicken for instance) often have a better flavor if they sit overnight.  Tables can be set, name cards completed, and playlists created all before the event day arrives.  Save yourself the headache and don’t wait until an hour before your guests arrive to decorate the tables.

We hope to see you April 30th at Hearts for Hope!

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

-C.S. Lewis 

#VivaLasDemavivas, A Love Story

Tomorrow our Henderson Center Director Kendall is marrying the love of his life, Katie. We are so excited to share a bit about their story and the vision for their marriage!

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Katie: I remember hanging out with some friends at a McDonald’s one night after our church service and asking Kendall what he wanted to do when he finished college. He spoke about being raised in a single parent home and how that experience ignited his passion for serving and educating low-income students here in Las Vegas. I was shocked because I shared that same vision! It was that night four years ago when I first invited him to volunteer at Club Christ! Today, that one invitation has turned into more than I could have ever imagined! In almost four years together, we have supported each other through undergraduate degrees, working multiple jobs, family drama, and long distance. Kendall is working at Club Christ where he is seeing so much fruit from his hard work and from God’s goodness and I am a few months away from teaching elementary school and doing the work I know God has created me to do. I haven’t had much doubt that God was in our relationship from the start, putting together two people with the same passion and vision for our city.

Kendall: Shameless plug to brag about my soon-to-be-wife, I am so excited and proud of her to begin God’s given plan for her life as an elementary school teacher. We are not sure where Katie will be teaching at this point, but I know that Katie will love her students, pray for her students, lead her students and devote her life to providing them with the most inspiring and excellent education she possibly can. Anyway….I cannot believe I am marrying my best friend and woman of my dreams tomorrow! There is so much to thank Katie for, but her invitation to volunteer at Club Christ, the first step in several steps that led to the job of my dreams, may be one of the things in which I am most thankful. She has been the biggest encourager of my journey from volunteer to Center Director. IMG_2787

Katie: I want our marriage to point people directly to Jesus. In fact, we want people to think there’s no way we’re doing this without Jesus! As Christians we are here to let our light shine before others and one of the most profound ways to do that is to have a marriage that is completely opposite to our culture. We need Jesus to be at the center of everything we do if we hope to do life together forever. When the going gets tough we will remind each other that this marriage isn’t about us; it’s all about glorifying our Father in heaven.

Kendall: One of the reasons I am honestly most excited about getting married is to have a partner in crime. Through our journey, we truly will be living the dream of investing into the youth of Las Vegas together for God’s glory as a center director, teacher, youth leaders, mentors, husband and wife, and if/when God calls us to be parents. In fact, I know one of the reasons God brought us together is because of our passion for youth and vision for unity in families in Las Vegas- both low-income and affluent. It’s our hope that our marriage, through good and bad, would be counter-cultural. When servanthood, faithfulness, gentleness and love are exemplified, and our father in heaven is given glory.

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“Marriage is a big deal when you think of it that way. God does so much work in our minds and hearts through this relationship. Marriage is one of the most humbling, sanctifying journeys you will ever be a part of. It forces us to wrestle with our selfishness and pride. But it also gives us a platform to display love and commitment.”

– Lisa Chan (You and Me Forever)