KOH2RVA: Day 265

Maruca and ClemmonsOne of the surprises of our year-long, every-member mission trip has been a friendship and partnership with the Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School in Richmond’s East End. It started when Melissa Ansley Brooks, who lives in the neighborhood, chose the Cooper School as her KOH2RVA “project.” She began to volunteer at the school, and as she did she began to see the potential for a Kingdom-bringing partnership between the school and First Baptist Church. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and “infected” a number of people at First Baptist including Mary Hiteman, Director of Weekday Early Education, and Joyce Clemmons, leader of the church’s Generosity Team. It was Joyce’s idea to provide gifts and prizes for the school’s “Spring Bash” a few weeks ago, and to spoil the teachers with extravagant gift baskets during Teacher Appreciation Week. Here’s her report:

TEACHER APPRECIATION WEEK AT AJCES

The Cooper School enjoyed a marvelous lunchtime experience on May 8th as ten teachers were presented with mementos of that special week set aside for teachers everywhere.

The lunchroom was a beehive of eating, talking, and speeches. Head of School Mike Maruca introduced visitors from First Baptist Church who presented lavish baskets overflowing with gifts for each of the ten teachers. Joyce Clemmons, Generosity Team leader, asked the students to join her in rousing applause for the role each teacher plays in their everyday lives. She encouraged the students to continue to pursue an education and set goals for the future. Those two things will assist each student in having a high school diploma, an opportunity to attend college, and a bright future ahead of them.

Teacher AppreciationRichie Hilbert’s Bible Study group was represented by Nell Coffman. A majority of that group generously donated items to fill the bright yellow, red, lime-green, and blue baskets. Generosity Team members Joyce Clemmons and Chuck Dean added their gifts. A colored picture of each teacher was attached to the gift.
Items included Flying Squirrels tickets, Car Pool car washes, McBucks from McDonalds, and gender specific items for the school desk and at home.

Thank you teachers at AJCES for all you do. Thank you Bible Study group for your generosity. Thank you Nell Coffman for the delightful framed plaque—”A Teacher’s ABCs”—which can be displayed on the teacher’s desk.

It was a fun lunch time and George, Sr. fed us well. Thank you, George!!

I don’t think the teachers at the Cooper School are always so generously appreciated. I think it was Joyce’s intention to overwhelm them with appreciation. I think she succeeded.

I’m grateful for the way heaven has come to earth through this partnership, and I want to thank Melissa, Mary, and Joyce, for the way they keep it coming.  Who would have guessed that a big Baptist church on Monument Avenue and a little Episcopal school in the East End would form such a beautiful friendship?

It sounds like something Jesus himself might have dreamed up.

KOH2RVA: Day 242

Choice of tomato, pepper, begoniaRecently Len Morrow forwarded some pictures of the sixth graders from the Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School in the Children’s Garden at First Baptist Church. The sixth graders have been making occasional trips to the church to read to the children in our preschool, their “Book Buddies.”  It’s been a heart-warming partnership, and the pictures from the Children’s Garden were touching, but I didn’t know the story. So, I asked FBC member Melissa Brooks (our primary connection to AJCES) what happened. This is what she told me:

Hi Jim,

Thanks for asking! We celebrated our last “Book Buddy” meet up of the year with a Garden Party hosted by Dr. Potato Head (A.K.A. Len Morrow). We had to miss the month of April because of Spring Break and Coach G (teacher at AJCES) told me on the bus ride over that the kids had been asking her when they were coming to see their Lil’ Buddies again. When the 6th graders filed into the preschool classrooms it was electric! We did a little reading/play time in the classroom to catch up on life and then headed out to the garden for some planting with Len. He taught the Cooper kids a few things about planting while the little ones played. It was great to see the Cooper kids get their hands dirty and every so often look to Dr. Potato Head for affirmation that they were doing things correctly. Some planted vegetables, some planted perennials. Some of the kids were already thinking of family members or loved ones they could give them to. They were proud to put their names on the little stick and call it their own. It was their parting gift.

Book BuddyThen the Cooper kids and the FBC kids had a good ole fashioned playdate—and in the warm sunshine they were sliding down the slides together, and climbing on the monkey bars, and at one point I witnessed four very dainty little girls in the middle of at least 8 big 6th graders on the large teeter totter while the 6th graders rocked it wildly from side to side. My motherly instinct kicked in and I approached them to suggest that maybe the big kids should cool it a little bit as to not “scare” the little ones. Very quickly I was corrected by Miss Virginia Dean who insisted she wasn’t scared at all. In fact, the other three little girls quickly chimed in, “We’re not scared, either, we’re having so much funnn!” (their blonde bobs whipping and smocked dresses flying around as they rocked from side to side). Message received. I shut my mouth and stepped back and let it be. Powerful lesson learned, courtesy of a 5 year old.

We ended with a Popsicle.

Mary Hiteman has an AMAZING picture that she posted on her Facebook page and I insist that you use it. It literally brought me to tears. It’s a picture of one of those precious little blondes I mentioned embracing her Book Buddy. It’s powerful. You can probably nab it from Mary’s FB wall.

Thanks,
Melissa

Thank you, Melissa, and thanks for going ahead and nabbing the picture.  It’s precious.

KOH2RVA:Day 212

AJCES BashHow do you measure the success of a year-long, every-member mission trip? By the number of conversions, of course! And Joyce Clemmons is a convert.

I don’t mean that she has been converted to Christianity. She became a Christian years ago. I only mean that she has been converted by the joy and excitement of bringing heaven to earth. I wish you could have heard her make the announcement below on Sunday morning. Her enthusiasm was contagious. In fact, after worship, someone handed her a check for $1,000. Read it for yourself and see if you don’t catch whatever she’s got. The fact that she typed it in ALL CAPS is just another expression of her zeal.

TWO HUNDRED AND TEN DAYS AGO, OUR PASTOR CHALLENGED US TO HELP BRING THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN TO RICHMOND VIRGINIA BY REACHING OUT IN WHATEVER DIRECTION THE LORD LED US. MANY OF YOU HAVE DONE SOME INCREDIBLE THINGS.

ASK YOURSELF THIS QUESTION .. HAVE I FOUND MY PLACE ON THIS KOH2RVA MISSION TRIP? WHAT IF THERE WAS A CHURCH-WIDE MISSION PROJECT THAT I COULD BECOME A PART OF?

WHEN STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS WENT TO THE ANNA JULIA COOPER EPISCOPAL SCHOOL IN MARCH TO DO SERVICE PROJECTS, KOH2RVA SEEMED TO BECOME A NEON SIGN FLASHING IN THE MINDS OF MANY. IT BECAME EVIDENT THAT A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SCHOOL WOULD BE ONE EXCITING CHURCH-WIDE PROJECT! THE GENEROSITY TEAM CHOSE THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER TO ANNOUNCE THAT PLAN.

THE SCHOOL’S ACRONYM AJCES IS AN INDEPENDENT FAITH-BASED MIDDLE SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS OF LIMITED RESOURCES IN THE EAST END ON 29TH STREET. THE SCHOOL FOCUSES ON ACADEMIC, SOCIAL, AND SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT. MANY STUDENTS WOULD PROBABLY NOT GET ANY EDUCATION WITHOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY.

WE ARE ASKING YOU TO CONTRIBUTE TIME, TALENT, AND TREASURE FOR A SPRING CELEBRATION AT THE SCHOOL ON SATURDAY, MAY 4TH.
A CARNIVAL WILL ENTICE 52 STUDENTS, PARENTS, AND FRIENDS TO JOIN IN THE FUN AND GAMES. GIVEN THE CHALLENGES THESE STUDENTS FACE AT HOME, SOCIALS SUCH AS THIS ARE RARE AND SPECIAL.

HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP. WE NEED PRIZES FOR THE GAME WINNERS OF GRADES 6, 7, 8. BOARD GAMES, PUZZLES, BOOKS, DVDS, SNACKS, GIFT CARDS, MOVIE PASSES, OUTDOOR GAME AND RECREATION ITEMS FOR SUMMER.

MEMBERS OF THE GENEROSITY TEAM WILL BE AROUND THE NEXT TWO SUNDAYS, APRIL 14 AND 21, ACCEPTING YOUR PRIZE DONATIONS OR CHECKS/CASH, AS YOU CHOOSE. SIGN UP SHEETS WILL BE THERE, ALONG WITH MAPS AND TIMES, FOR MUCH NEEDED VOLUNTEERS ON MAY 4TH. I’M ALREADY LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU NEXT SUNDAY.

Can we work with an Episcopal School to bring heaven to earth for some middle-schoolers who live in the housing projects of Richmond?

You bet we can.

Thank you, Joyce, for issuing the challenge. I’ll bring my prize donations next Sunday and see you at the Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School on May 4!