Besides being a Scrabble player’s dream (imagine the triple word score on “Zezza”), Sonya Lee is the social worker at Essex Village apartments on Laburnum Road in Richmond, an apartment complex First Baptist has “adopted” as part of our year-long, every-member mission trip.
I stopped by Essex Village on Monday, just to see what it’s like. It’s like…huge! Acres and acres of apartment buildings spread out over several city blocks. It’s huge, but when I saw it on Monday it seemed to be very peaceful, clean, and well-kept. The playground was one I might have taken my own children to when they were younger.
When I told Sonya Lee about that she was pleased. She’s been trying to teach the children not to throw their trash on the ground. She’s been giving awards to residents who keep their breezeways especially clean. She’s been waving to the residents across the parking lot and saying, “Good morning!”
They’re not used to that.
Sonya Lee is young, bright, attractive: she looks more like a kindergarten teacher than a social worker in one of the city’s neediest neighborhoods. She told us that there are 544 children who live in Essex Village, and that most of their parents are single parents, struggling to get by. She told us she could use our help.
How can we help? Well, we can volunteer to tutor some of those 544 children. We can help their parents study for the GED. And of course we can pray for the peace of Essex Village, a neighborhood whose violent crime rate is twice the national average.
I’m sure there are many days when heaven seems a long, long way from that apartment complex on Laburnum Road. This year, by God’s grace and through our efforts, may it come a little closer.
p.s. Next Wednesday night the principal of Glen Lea Elementary School, the school we have adopted for this year, will be our speaker. Join us at 6:15.