Our Final Fellows

     “I was most struck by the education system, and how it was failing,” said Jordan as she recounted learning about EPA’s school system and BCM’s mission to fill the educational and spiritual voids our students experience. Jordan came to know BCM through her college’s (Hope College) Spring Break missions trip and later applied for and was offered a Fellow position.

     Jose, a banking professional who had relocated from Costa Rica to the US to study English, was led by his passion for ministry to our doorstep. An online search put BCM on Jose’s radar but it was not until he found out that his wife’s (then girlfriend) parents were BCM co-founders that he knew it was meant to be. After almost a year of volunteer work as a Streetworkz mentor (middle school spiritual program) and a guitar instructor with CREATE Studios (STEAM program), Jose was also offered a Fellow position.

    When asked what makes them passionate about BCM, Jordan, without hesitation, answered, “the kids.” As she discussed the 20+ students she would work hard to stay in touch with if for some reason she had to leave BCM, Jordan said “Myself and others at BCM are people they can come to…. I love them and I want to be in their lives.” “In the end you feel like you cannot leave them, you have to keep walking beside them,” Jose said, as he discussed his desire to support his students through their spiritual journey. Jose then ended his thought with a question to himself “How can I be the factor of change in their lives?”

    As Jordan discussed what she learned through the EPA Fellows Program she talked about some of the issues our students face, like immigration, the housing crisis, mass incarceration and how BCM was intentional about diving deep into these issues with the Fellows. “A huge challenge to my personal faith” said Jordan “Is learning to trust God with the kids, knowing how much they need, and what I can’t give them.” Jose discussed how the Fellows Program led to a new perspective of how “race, culture and economics effect the community.” He went on to say that a big lesson for him was “how important relationships are to cultivate a healthy ministry.”

     When asked about the legacy they want to leave as the final Fellows (BCM will no longer be offering a Fellows Program), Jordan discussed the original intent of the program, to acquire younger staff members, and her legacy will be just that! She considered her first 2 years as a Fellow as “training” for her transition into becoming a full time BCM staff member. Jose hopes to leave a community of students who provide friendship and support to each other. He takes pride in proving that “Young staff can do ministry, make an impact on the community, and share the gospel.”

     “It doesn’t feel like a drastic change, but a continuation of what I’ve been doing,” said Jordan as she discussed her future plans, which include managing BCM’s middle school spiritual program. “We need more people in active ministry,” said Jose as he discussed his plans to continue working in the community while pursuing a Masters in Divinity. The love and dedication both Jordan and Jose have shown our students is immeasurable, and BCM is honored to have such loyal champions of our cause.

BCM Fellows.JPG

Goofing Around

Jose and Jordan take a silly picture during an Fellows meeting.

BCM Fellows Photo.JPG

Fellows Retreat

The fellow and their supervisors go on a team building retreat.

Fellows Retreat.JPG

Pose!

Jordan and Jose strike a final pose, as the final fellows.

His Walk With God

“It is amazing to see his ability to grasp the stories and internalize them in his own way,” said our Bible Club Manager about how Keith (name changed) takes each Bible lesson and absorbs it in a way that makes sense to him. Keith joined Bible Club during the school year and is currently attending Vacation Bible School (VBS), our elementary spiritual program that runs during the summer. This summer’s VBS theme is Shipwrecked: Rescued by Jesus and for Keith, the theme seemed to be relevant to his own life.

Keith is the model student. He is always on time, shows honest enthusiasm about learning Gods word, and is a joy to be around. But there was pain lurking beneath the surface of his gentle demeanor. “He has some serious family issues,” our EPA Fellow said as he recounted an intense conversation he had with Keith about what was going on in Keith’s family life.

One day, the VBS lesson was about how Jesus wants us to leave all of our worries with him and Keith seemed to be listening more intensely than ever. As the lesson went on he asked questions and was very engaged with what he was learning. He seemed to truly connect with what was being shared and by the end of the lesson he earnestly revealed that he had worries too heavy to bear alone. He truly wanted to give them to the Lord and we know that Jesus is helping Keith bear his burdens. “We are here to share the gospel with kids like Keith,” said our EPA Fellow in his final thoughts about the impact knowing Jesus has had on Keith and other students like him.

20180613_144754.jpg

VBS Games

VBS students line up to participate in a game.

IMG_3997.CR2.jpg

Snack Time

Students grab a snack in between lessons.

IMG_4408.CR2.jpg

Praise Dance

Students do a praise dance at the beginning of each VBS lesson.

A Students Transformation

“I’m sorry for yelling at you, I was just really mad…” wrote Andrew (name changed). He had exploded in anger at our Director of Ministries, and after the dust had settled, took it upon himself to grab a flyer from the front desk and write her an apology note on the back of it. Andrew joined CREATE Academy in summer 2016. He had been referred by one of his teachers to improve his math skills. But math was the least of his worries.

Andrew was very angry. Day in and day out he would pick fights, cuss at teachers and lash out at BCM students. It got to the point that not only was his mom (who is a single parent), being contacted regularly by BCM staff, but his psychologist also. There were days when program staff would ask Andrews’ mom to pick him up early because he couldn’t seem to get along with anyone. We always told him he was welcome to come back the next day.

As time went on, Andrew began to open up. One day after Andrew had a heated confrontation with another BCM student, our Middle School Manager took him aside to get to the bottom of why he was so upset. At first, he refused to give an explanation, but eventually he revealed that he was being bullied at school for his appearance and that a comment by one of our students about his appearance had enraged him. Being bullied does not justify becoming a bully, and this was made clear to Andrew, but his honesty allowed us to empathize with his situation and be there for him during the rough times.

After summer programs ended, Andrew joined one of our robotics teams in Fall 2016 and although he continued to have outbursts our, Robotics co-manager said they were fewer and farther between. Andrew participated in Lego Robotics again this past Fall and is currently attending StreetWorkz. “When I see him now, he is so relaxed and calm,” said one of Andrew’s teachers. “You can tell from his face that he is not angry all the time anymore, he is by far the kid I have seen the biggest change in since I’ve been here,” our Director of Ministries said with smile. When discussing Andrew’s reaction to being told that BCM staff had planned to attend his 8th grade graduation, our Middle School Manager said “He knows people here love and care about him and have seen his growth.”

IMG_0166.jpg

CREATE Students

Pictured are a few of our CREATE Academy students.

create-15.jpg

Dance

Students stretch during CREATE Academy's dance class last summer.

IMG_1123.JPG

Field Trip

Students go on field trips every Friday during CREATE Academy. This Friday, students went hiking.

Seeking God's Direction

It is no surprise that East Palo Alto is changing. As one exits the 101 N, the first impression of our city is a new 250,000 sq. ft. building filled with 1,300 Amazon engineers. It is a symbol of the commercial development that will soon flood the city and a reminder that many of the new jobs being created may not entirely be filled by our working-class community.

Every three to four years, we take a step back from our day-to-day operations and go through a strategic planning process in efforts to better understand our evolving community. We particularly seek to uncover: how our community is changing, what are the most pressing needs of our youth, what is God calling us to do to meet these needs, how do we use our strengths and adjust our programs to meet these needs, and who should we continue or seek to partner with in the next season of ministry. From February to April this year, we met with multiple stakeholders who shared their anxieties and excitement for our community. Our strategic planning committee has demonstrated their dedication to faithful stewardship through fasting, praying and reviewing all input as we seek direction from our Lord.

A close examination of our community has led to the emergence of some alarming (but unfortunately not surprising) trends. The effects of gentrification are prominent. Housing cost and housing insecurity has topped the list of concerns many of our families and partners are experiencing; traffic and employment/economic issues also enter the top five list. A local principal shared that throughout this school year, she has seen an increase of over 15% in demand of counseling services for her high school students; much of which has been driven by the stress due to housing insecurity. The Ravenswood City School District reported that well over 40% of its students are defined as homeless or housing insecure. Another trend that remains is the achievement gap between students from our community and those attending neighboring school districts. The Ravenswood Education Foundation’s annual report stated that only 19% of third graders are scoring proficient in reading standardized tests. Though high school graduation rates have slighted ticked upward (now close to 70%), the majority of our graduates do not meet four-year college requirements. Lastly, a silver lining has emerged; public safety no longer tops the list of concerns, as it did for many decades. East Palo Alto has experienced a dramatic decrease in violent crime and homicides over the course of the last four years.

Despite the changes we are experiencing, the need to share God’s love and help our children (and their families) develop a relationship with Christ is as urgent as ever. We are thankful for the privilege to work alongside so many of you, our community members and supporters, as we love and serve our community together. Please pray for BCM as we seek God’s direction, discernment and clarity in mapping out our strategic priorities for the next three years.

20180501_191754.jpg

Student Roudtable 

BCM high school students are ask to share their opinions and suggestions with the Strategic Planning Committee as we plan for the future.

IMG_2581.JPG

Strategic Committee

The Strategic Planning Committee take a visual approach to the process by sketching their hopes for the future.

IMG_2583.JPG

Themes

These are some of themes that have been uncovered through the strategic planning process.

The Lost Student

Anna (name changed) is one of our 6th grade students in CREATE Studios, our after-school academic program for middle school students. She has been with BCM since the 2nd grade, first joining KidSmart and Bible Club. She easily transitioned into CREATE Studios, StreetWorkz (middle school spiritual program) and spent the last two summers in CREATE Academy. Anna was fully engaged in almost all that BCM has to offer.

     It took us by surprise that after Christmas break, Anna began missing programs. Waniya, CREATE’s program manager, called her family. No answer came, so Waniya asked one of Anna’s classmates if he had seen her at school. Yes, she had been at school and seemed fine. After numerous phone calls to her home, Waniya received a note from Anna that said she would not be returning to BCM and she was sorry.

     Luke 15 discusses a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son, each story just a bit different yet important to illustrate that God cares for those who are lost, no matter the reason. At BCM we hope to offer that same grace and love to others. When a student appears “lost,” we want them to know they are welcome back at BCM.

     Anna appeared lost to us. We knew we needed to make sure she was okay. Waniya asked Roberto, a fellow staff member, to wait with her after school and sure enough, Anna eventually came out with her mom. With Roberto as an interpreter, Waniya learned that Anna was fine, but her mom had asked her to do her homework at home as some unexpected financial obligations took precedence over our program fees. Though we charge a small amount for our programs, this was still a burden to Anna’s family. We value our students and desire to offer grace, including financially, and don’t deny families because of their inability to pay. Waniya explained that money should not be a hurdle to her participation and let her mom know that we wanted Anna back in program as soon as possible.

     At 3:30pm that same afternoon, Anna walked back into our doors with a smile on her face, backpack on her back, and returned to her normal spot, ready to complete her homework! Losing Anna was not an option for us. She is a part of the BCM family and being a lost family member just isn’t going to happen on our watch.

 

 

 

This story was recently shared by Cassie, BCM’s Director of Ministries, in our fund request letter.

IMG_3489.JPG

Create Studios

Students work on an art project at Create Studios.

IMG_1072.JPG

Outside the Classroom

BCM takes Create students on a hiking fieldtrip.

kipp-default-share.png

KIPP

The student featured (and many other Create students) attend KIPP Middle School

Parents' Perspectives

“I know they are safe,” said Antonia, when asked why she has kept her daughters enrolled in BCM’s programs throughout the years. Antonia found out about BCM six years ago when one of her children’s Brentwood Academy teachers mentioned that BCM offered summer programs. Fast forward to now, her children are in BCM’s LiT high school student program. “All of the summer programs were awesome!” said Antonia while reminiscing about her first experiences with BCM. As she discussed the lessons her children have learned through BCM, Antonia said that BCM “teaches them how to be respectful and care for each other.”

When Alejandra and her family first moved to East Palo Alto (EPA) around three years ago, she decided to start looking into after school programs for her son and daughter. “To be honest I was very hesitant at first” said Alejandra as she recalled how EPA’s reputation made her nervous about just sending her children out into the community, but she ended up choosing BCM because of the affordability and the fact that we are a Christian organization. “Everyone is super kind and nice and know you by name,” said Alejandra when the topic of program and non-program BCM staff came up. “You guys reinforce values that I already believe in and academics, so they don’t forget in the summer,” said Alejandra as she explained how BCM’s Create Academy and other middle school programs benefit her children.

Eight years ago, Laumanu became a BCM parent when she decided to enroll her two older children in BCM’s middle school program; now her two youngest children are in KidSmart. Laumanu highlighted the importance of homework help when she expressed her gratitude for how BCM “Helps them [her children] with homework because I cannot do it at home” which is a sentiment that is expressed by many BCM parents who at times find it difficult to keep up with their children’s homework.

“She is more sociable now, she is not as shy,” said Aisha as she spoke about how her daughter has grown since she started attending BCM’s StreetWorkz. Aisha found out about BCM from a faculty member of another Bay Area student geared program called SWAG that outreaches to and supports students in the Sequoia Union High School District. Two years ago, Aisha decided to become a part of the BCM family and her daughter seems to be thrilled with this decision. “My daughter likes the program, she is happy there.”

DSC_0045.jpg

Middle School Graduation

A parent attending BCM's middle school graduation party poses with her children for a photo.

image1.JPG

Girls Night

BCM invited mothers and daughters to engage in a bonding activity by making bracelets together.

BCM 2017_Michele Christine Photography-4737.jpg

Create Academy Celebration

Students perform a dance routine as their parents snap photos at the Create Academy Celebration.

Retreat Reflections

The Volunteer Perspective

“Seeing how welcoming and friendly the students are gives me a little reminder to do the same” says Meryn, who traveled all the way from Michigan with the Hope College team to volunteer at BCM’s Teen Retreat. Meryn is junior majoring in Social Work at Hope and became familiar with BCM through Jordan Dennen, a current BCM staff member and Hope College alumna. Meryn also volunteered with BCM last year and was so happy with her experience that she not only decided to return as a leader but also bring some friends along. As Meryn reflected on her experience as a volunteer, she spoke about how many of the students were so willing to open up and be honest about the struggles they face.

 

The Middle School Student Perspective

“God sacrificed himself for us and now we have someone to talk to through prayer” said Cristina as she discussed what she learned through a ‘relationship with God’ themed session at the Teen Retreat. There was another session that explained the purpose of animal sacrifices in biblical times by giving each student toy animals and for every type of sin committed one toy animal was taken away or sacrificed. “I realized how many sins we have yet God came down to save us because he loves us” said Nathan as he explained what he learned through this exercise.

 

The High School Student Perspective

A student named Kassandra mentioned in small group conversation at the retreat “how God is there for you but shows himself in different forms.” She went on to discuss how the students were given the opportunity to write personal letters, paint and draw and how those are all types of worship which she said made her feel “more connected” to God. “In order to talk to God, he doesn’t have to physically respond, he can speak through people and art,” said V, as she recalled that significant realization she obtained from the retreat.

 

The Retreat Festivities

The Teen Retreat is full of fun and Bible-based activities. Each day of the weekend long retreat is packed with different team building activities, small groups and Biblical sessions. Students form teams with team names such as Pink Pomegranate Panthers and The Flash and compete head-to-head earning points in each activity in an effort to be the reigning champions. Students are also taken to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for a fun day of rides, carnival treats and a bonfire. It is very encouraging to hear such positive feedback from not only our students but also volunteers and staff because it validates BCM’s mission to share fun activities, community and God’s love with our students.

IMG_0745.jpg

Team Names!

Students break up into several teams and work on their team name and sign.

IMG_0762.jpg

Group Sessions

Students learn about the purpose of animal sacrifices in Biblical times.

20180317_133456.jpg

Santa Cruz

Students, volunteers and staff pose for a picture at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

BCM and King's Academy

 “Each spring we vacate our entire high school and send teams of students around the world to do service projects”, says Justin, who teaches Math and is a TKA water Polo and swimming coach at King’s Academy in Sunnyvale. ”The projects range anywhere from building homes in Tecate, Mexico, to post-hurricane clean up in Louisiana, to medical missions in Malawi, Africa, to supporting missionary training to indigenous people groups in the Amazon jungle in Ecuador,” he continued. This year there will be a new focus for service trips. “The ministry that has always been on my heart has been local suburban/urban missions, to the people right here at home” Justin recounts, and when the new principal at King’s asked the Spiritual Life Department to consider missions trips closer to home, Justin jumped at the chance.

Around 12 years ago Justin found out about BCM and a few other East Palo Alto non-profits through his church. When he volunteered with each, Justin saw first had the work that was being done in his own backyard. Fast forward to now, Justin is thrilled to be spearheading King’s first East Palo Alto Service Week. Discussing King’s plans to serve the community, Justin says “We are partnering with BCM, New Creation Home, Ravenswood Middle School and EPA Shop to introduce our students to a community of focus right up the road, where real people live real lives impacted by real policies and systems that we are largely immune from experiencing.  It's an opportunity for our students to realize that we can serve where we live.”

DL 032808 040.jpg

Where It Started

This photo of Justin teaching students how to work on a bike was taken almost 12 years ago when he first volunteered at BCM

DSC_0008.JPG

Serving BCM

These BCM teen students are among those that will be served by King's Academy during EPA Service Week

Team Photo.JPG

Team Photo

The entire King's Academy team pose for a photo

Create Art

This spring, BCM students are exploring ways in which to express their own identity through visual art. BCM’s art program entitled Create Art will be following EPACENTER’s Drawing 101: Six Elements of Art curriculum, which starts off with the basics such as drawing lines and shapes and ends with instruction in 3D and cartoon drawing. This class does not have a rigid structure and students are encouraged to be free and “outside the box” with the art they create. The curriculum allows BCM students to create art as a form of self-expression which frees them of any tight restrictions. Create Art students are currently working on collages and how to tie the many small elements of a collage together to make one unique work of art that communicates a part of their own identity.

For the past 2 years, EPACENTER and BCM have maintained a partnership to bring BCM students Create Art, which begins in spring and lasts until summer. The mission of EPACENTER is to help facilitate youth in the discovery of their own talents and capabilities through art. Create Art is run by Troy Davis, EPACENTER’s Music and Visual Arts Instructor. Troy studied painting, digital software, figure drawing and color theory at the Academy of Art University, where he graduated with a BA in Illustration. As a long-time resident of East Palo Alto, Troy not only finds it easier to relate to BCM students but has a deeper understanding of the ever changing culture of East Palo Alto. We at BCM look forward to a long a fruitful relationship with Troy and EPACENTER.

Image.jpg

Say Cheese!

Students take a moment to smile for a picture as they work on their projects.

Image-5.jpg

Art Time!

Using bright colors and varying shapes work on sketches to add to their collages.

Image-2.jpg

Digital Art

A student uses an ipad to assist in creating sketches.

Hope and Jordan

It was the spring break of her senior year at Hope College and instead of planning a trip with her friends, Jordan decided to apply to Hope’s spring immersion trips, where students volunteer across the country in different communities. On the application, Jordan did not list BCM as her first choice. To be quite frank, Jordan was not completely sold on going on a mission trip in the first place, so when she got her acceptance email she was somewhat surprised and started to question if she wanted to follow through with the trip. After some thought, Jordan decided not to let this opportunity pass her by, and boy was she happy she didn’t. Through Hope’s partnership with BCM, Jordan was able to tutor students in KidSmart and participate in a family event with Bible Club. She also visited East Palo Alto high schools and learned about the history and demographics of East Palo Alto, which she said helped her better understand BCM students. Impressed by her natural connection with the students, Jordan was approached by multiple BCM staff members who encouraged her to apply for BCM’s year-long college graduate fellowship which would start after graduation.  Jordan was flattered that multiple people felt she had the qualifications and temperament to be successful in student mentorship, but at the time, she did not give it too much thought.

On her first day back at Hope College, Jordan ran into one of the Chaplains, whom she was very close to, and when he asked her about her experience at BCM, she recalled the amazing time she had mentoring and learning alongside the students. Jordan also mentioned being encouraged to apply for BCM’s Fellowship as she casually asked her Chaplain for a reference, to which he agreed. The next day she received an email from her Chaplain stating that he had already sent the reference to BCM. Because Hope and BCM have been partners for just about 15 years, Jordan’s Chaplain was not shy about getting in contact with BCM staff; Jordan on the other hand was rather caught off guard. She did not expect him to be so prompt in churning out her recommendation letter, especially because she had not made her mind up about whether she would even apply. Now she had no choice! After applying and going through the interview process, Jordan was excited to be offered the Fellowship position, but soon enough apprehension set in. Jordan lived in Chicago and went to college in Michigan; BCM is in California. Jordan received her degree in Dance and Business; mentoring students at BCM did not seem like it would put her specific education to use. After a week of mental gymnastics, Jordan decided to commit to BCM and become a Fellow, and she has never regretted that decision for a moment. Now, Jordan is completing her second year as a Fellow with BCM and looking back on her journey she said “It is clear that God led me to BCM.” As her time as a Fellow comes to a close and Jordan considers transitioning to a BCM staff member, she plans on allowing the Lord to lead her footsteps.

20170318_135058.jpg

The Boardwalk!

Jordan and her students snap a picture at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

DSCN6680.JPG

Game Time!

Jordan playing an intense game of Jenga with one of her students. 

DSC_0054.JPG

Celebration!

Jordan and her students take goofy pictures during the middle school graduation celebration.

BCM Volunteers

     On the hunt for a volunteer position that interested her, Lorena decided to seek help from Job Train and was delighted when they directed her to BCM. BCM offers several volunteer opportunities but Lorena found that devoting her time to KidSmart students was the perfect fit for her. As a volunteer, Lorena serves as a classroom aide who works one-on-one with her students. She assists students with their homework, reading comprehension, and math skills. During recess, she goes outside with her students and plays right alongside them. In my interview with Lorena, she spoke about how she not only sees herself as a tutor but also a mentor. “It will be more difficult for them to learn if they don’t know who you are” said Lorena as she discussed the importance of building relationships with her students and getting to know their individual learning habits. Lorena’s dedication to her community shines not only through her volunteer work but also in her career goals. She is currently attending college full time in the hopes of earning her degree in social work and becoming a probation officer.

     The main goal of the KidSmart program is to ensure that students’ academic skills are in line with their grade level while also preparing the students for the next school year. Recently, KidSmart Manager Diana Liggs noticed that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find KidSmart interns, so when Lorena came on board Diana was thrilled. After seeing Lorena’s love and dedication to her students, Diana decided to offer Lorena a paid position as a KidSmart intern, which Lorena happily accepted and will be starting once her hours through Job Train are complete. BCM is blessed to have so many wonderful, patient and dedicated volunteers like Lorena who go above and beyond to ensure our students receive not only quality academic help but also emotional, mental and spiritual support.

 

*If you would like to learn more about volunteering with BCM contact Kim Shimazaki (Volunteer Coordinator) at kim@bayshore.org

file3[1].jpeg

Cheese!

Lorena poses with her students for a picture.

file5[2].jpeg

Homework Help

Lorena assists a student with her homework.

Recess

Lorena and her students play jump rope during recess.

Praise and Worship!

James* had already been through some tough experiences in his short life time. Because of a legal status issue, his father was deported, leaving his mother as the sole provider for him and his siblings. James was always pretty active, but when it came to participating in praise and worship he seemed inclined to shy away and would find his way to the back of the class to limit his participation. As time went on and James behavior persisted, Bible Club leaders never forced him to participate but instead, continued to pray for him and to share the Lord’s message with him and the rest of their students. One day, something changed. Instead of hanging in the back during praise and worship, Bible Club leaders were delightfully surprised to see James energetically join in, singing and praising with the other students. Maybe it was the song that inspired him or maybe it was Jesus who touched his heart.

     Each child absorbs and begins to understand the beauty of God’s love, kindness and mercy at his or her own rate, which is why our Bible Club instructors are sure to be attentive to each student’s individual pace in an effort to meet them where they are at. Rushing anyone’s spiritual journey, even a child’s, can be ineffectual so instead Bible Club leaders allow their student’s love, praise and curiosity for the word of God to manifest organically. Being able to support and facilitate a child’s walk with God is a gift that BCM is honored to receive.

                                                          *A different name was used to protect our student’s privacy

_mg_3703_34600319646_o.jpg

Bible Club

Students raise their hands, ready to answer a question posed during the weekly lesson.

Robot Spartans win the Judges Award!

Three cheers for the Robot Spartans! After the first round of qualifying victories at Google HQ in November, our First Lego League (FLL) competed in FLL regionals in Morgan Hill and impressed the judges with their team collaboration, problem solving and attitude. A long day that started early in the morning ended with the team receiving the Judges Award in recognition of their modeling of core values in the area of teamwork. Head Coach (and super Volunteer) Greg Corsetto elaborated that the Robot Spartans “developed a sophisticated robot this year, using advanced mechanical and programming techniques. They also developed a first rate research project, which they were recognized for in the Regional competition.”

Robot Spartan team member, Austin, described the start of the day. “We woke up early before 7 a.m. to drive south. The competition was inside a gym like a science fair with a pit area and a place where people can watch what you’re doing.”

Another team member, Nathan, pointed out that it was a high school gym and when asked what it was like, responded with the positive assessment that, “It was fun.”

Cristina, another team member agreed. “It was good.”

Asked why she likes robotics, she shared that “It was fun to build things” and that she “liked building things”. She had accidentally received a gift of Legos four years ago (and now has quite a few sets of Lego sets) and had gotten into the robotics part because of her love for Legos.

Back to Austin, who continued to describe the day, “We competed in four rounds. Our team would get together and go over the plan for completing ‘missions’.”

What are “missions”?

“Missions are jobs that your robots have to do and complete on their own. They are programmed to do certain things on their own. Sometimes the Robot’s mission is to carry something, or to push certain buttons, to drop something off or to drive a set course called ‘line tracking’.” Austin paused, “the hardest tournament was definitely the 3rd one when our main mission didn’t work out.” What won them the Judges Award, Austin reported, was that their unsupervised team work to accomplish in the last mission clinched them high scores.

His time on the Robotics team has helped Austin confirm his passion for design—whether it’s computer design to fashion design. Asked if they learned anything from their experiences competing, Austin shared that he had grown in trusting both the adult volunteers as well as his peers. And Cristina provided a perfect summary sentence with a twinkle in her eye and a shy smirk,

“Anything is possible if you work hard for it!”

We are SO proud of the students’ achievements. At the same time we would like to shout out to our EIGHTEEN amazing volunteers who make the Robotics team happen. The preparation of the teams and performance in the FLL competitions would not be possible without their hard work.

 

Robots, Cooking and Thank You notes

Time moves quickly! With January behind us we’ve begun to wade into 2017 and already we’ve collected three moments of pride--pride at the maturity and growth in our youth. 

 Robot Spartans preparing their Lego robot!

Robot Spartans preparing their Lego robot!

We are always proud of our students, but recently several of them really outdid themselves. Robotics is one part of our middle school program where students learn how to work as a team to design, program and troubleshoot Lego robots. After competing this last fall in the First Lego League at Google’s Mountain View headquarters, one of our teams--The Robot Spartans—won both their Regionals and the “Judge’s Award” (for team conduct). The Robot Spartans will be competing this upcoming Saturday, February 4th at Sobrato High in Morgan Hill against 30 other Bay Area teams. You can read about their efforts in this Mercury News article [>here<].

Meanwhile our high school students in the LiT program havebeen engaging in their own kind of competition—specifically cooking. In the spirit of TV reality cooking shows, the two LiT cohort groups competed in preparibg candied sweet potatoes and salad versus mac ‘n cheese and pecan bars. In the chaos of chopping, stirring and talking the respective team leaders were able to exercise their skills in delegating and control while reflecting on their leadership style and strengths.  The results were mouthwatering with the male cohort group claiming victory. Stay tuned for future competitive cooking stories!

Finally, we would like to draw your attention to a letter written by one of our students who receives Bible lessons and tutoring from our volunteers. We don’t always get to see the impact that results from a real connection, but every now and then we do and it warms our hearts beyond words.

Please pray for our students, their families and our various programs! We love our work but there is much, much more to be done!

Out of the Bubble into the Bay (Part 2) by Alyssa Lorenzo

During a StreetWorkz night in the spring, we challenged our kids to pray big. God wanted to bless them. We had them write down their prayers, seal it in an envelope and place it in a pile on the stage. As we circled up to pray over this collection of prayers, a student who had been sitting quietly, not writing, suddenly motioned for me to return to her table.

"Remember that thing I told you about my family on Friday? Can I pray about that?" 

"Absolutely," I responded, "that's huge."

"So what do I say?"

"What do you want most?"

"Well, I don't want my grandma to be upset or have the family so divided. Can I ask for that?"

"Definitely, you can ask that God would love your family and help them heal as they forgive each other."

"Yea, I think I want to forgive too." I stared at her. I couldn't fathom that kind of forgiveness she was describing.

Later, as we split up for drop-offs, she walked up to me, gave me a hug and thanked me for helping her pray and letting her have more time to write. She planned to take her envelope home to pray some more. She said she was glad she told me about what had happened.

 _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I'm surprised by how far ahead our kids will plan. And how casually these seemingly demanding questions are thrown about. They're testing the waters. Just as often as the questions though, come the "threats."

"If you're not at my high school graduation, I'll haunt you in your sleep."

"If you don't take us there for our 8th grade outing too...boi." 

"It's been two weeks, you better visit me for lunch!"

My first reactions were something like, "Excuse me?!" Then it clicks. They've come to expect these things. I've set a precedent for being in their schools, at their celebrations, and part of their weekends. They want me around and they trust that I care enough to want to be there. They soak up the attention and affection, dubbing me "Street Mom," or "Street Auntie."

Driving back from an afternoon outing last Friday, I asked about their days. Rose-bud-thorn: something you really enjoyed, something you're looking forward to and something that wasn't so great about the day.

One sixth grader responded, "My rose was getting to hang with my squad today."

"Oh yea? Who's your squad?" I fully expected names of girls at school. 

Instead, she motioned to the other four students in the car. I was taken aback. Those five kids are my pilot group for a new middle school academic program. It hadn't occurred to me that this program could become their main community. We were only two weeks in. They had already come to enjoy each other's company, be friends and look forward to time spent together in tutoring, art workshops or just talking. God had been bonding them together even when I thought they hated it. He created a stable, safe, loving environment, allowing His grace to cover the rockiness of my struggle to form a burgeoning program.

I've realized I won't feel like I'm doing enough or doing things right. But it's because I love our kids a lot. That's why I stayed for year two. I want so much for them. We all want the best for our community and our kids’ futures. In the face of tragedy, hardship, frustration, apathy and injustice, I say, “Thank You, Jesus, for not expecting me to ‘do it all’ on my own.”

To our extended BCM family, I ask you to join us in prayer as we launch new and recurring fall programs. We need prayer for the Spirit to work through us (sometimes despite us), to love the kids, to guide them, to speak encouragement and truth to them in those vulnerable moments, to admit that we don’t know how to lift them up to dry land but together we’ll grasp the lifeline of hope to the solid ground that our Father provides. 

BCM Students go to Camp! by Stefie Dominguez, Middle School Program Manager

It all started 3 years ago as a far-off dream to take EPA students to Missouri. There’s this amazing urban sports camp there called Kids Across America (KAA) that I knew would change their lives. It’s a place where kids come from across the States for a week to learn about Jesus in a way that is relevant and fun. It’s also special to me because it changed me. This camp turned my faith upside down (in a good way). I was on staff for the summers of 2009 through 2015, working as a counselor my first few summers to the Women’s Director last year. Each season has had an incredible impact on my life full of joy, love and growth and that is what I wanted my students to experience.

I eventually found myself working full-time at BCM starting the Fall of 2015. Throughout that school year, I made it a goal to not forget about the “dream.” Then early on in the year I got word that I’d be presenting my summer journey proposal to our executive staff. Once that was approved and I got permission from parents, it was go time! The local financial support was unbelievable and in about a week all the money needed for the trip had been raised. It was an amazing display of God’s incredible grace. 

Our students were getting more and more excited as our date to leave was quickly approaching. Permission forms were signed, plane tickets were bought, a rental car was reserved and camp fees were paid. Honestly, it seemed surreal that this was all really coming together. The date kept approaching and I would have days where I was legitimately nervous. As their chaperone, I had four students’ parents trusting me to get their children to Missouri and back safely! 

The travel day started with picking up our students at 2:30 a.m. from their homes before heading to the airport in time for our 5:00 a.m. flight. Before we knew it, we were entering the camp gates and our students were having the time of their lives! Our students performed dances, they fellowshipped with students from other parts of the country, they made commitments regarding their faith, and overall were truly blessed by that week. Sometimes I would look at them having fun and joy would overwhelm me. They were experiencing the things that made me fall in love with those camp grounds throughout my college career. It was a transformative, life-changing week for them and it was exactly what I had prayed for. 

I remember when we got back in town and I dropped all the kids off at their houses. I just smiled and took a deep breath. “Thank you, Jesus!” were the only words going through my mind. I felt peace, relief and most of all, joy. 

 

Out of the Bubble and into the Bay (part I) by Alyssa Lorenzo

June 2016. It's been a year since I graduated. A year since I was busy celebrating with friends, finishing academic projects, packing up memories and looking to the next chapter. There weren't too many question marks in my immediate future. I'd go home to Texas for the summer, return to the Bay in August to begin my first "real" job and move into my first apartment with a good friend. I knew which church I'd attend and which Safeway I liked best. Foothill Expressway was my go-to route for driving just to think, and I knew a handful of places I could find a swing set should I wish to be particularly stress free.

Similarly to many students, I lived in a bubble, the Stanford bubble. I studied medical anthropology, basically how people and cultures perceive and experience health, disease and healing. I knew how deeply rooted systemic injustices were and I knew they existed within a mile radius. The advice at the end of the year brought warnings of the labors and dangers awaiting me beyond the Eucalyptus grove in the world of post-college life. I nodded and smiled. I'm just moving across the 101 highway. "I'll be fine." (My mom's favorite phrase.)


My first responsibility on the new job: plan a game day for the kick-off of StreetWorkz. Ooh-kay. I chose a series of minute-to-win-it activities and created a relay for two teams to compete. Every station was properly stocked with supplies, each student would only have to do one activity and I'd walk them through the seven stations before beginning. Middle school kids love competition and silly activities. How hard could it be? (Famous last words. You saw where this was going a mile ago.) I was hoarse before the first 15 minutes of that hour and a half. I was stuck in a stupor with an expression of utter denial on my tensed and worn features. I didn't get it. How did they not get it? I knew it wasn't impossible. I'd seen it done before. College did not prepare me for the peculiarity of children's moods, attitudes and thinking.

When I returned home, I told my roommate a play-by-play of the evening. Or, at least I tried. I couldn't explain what happened. Every description trailed off and left me muttering to myself (and the floor and ceiling in turn), "what just...I don't...I don't even know". It was outright mutiny. Defiance of logic. 90 minutes turned my belief in reasonable communication upside-down. And my belief in myself. "Jesus, I feel so lame," I thought. "Can I not even plan and play a game? Am I seriously preparing to pray over our next icebreaker? How am I supposed to get to deeper stuff and love them? They don't want me around, understandably; I'm not kid-friendly. I'm useless to your kingdom." (Yes, I'm melodramatic. Welcome to my the joys of my family.)

That was nine months ago. I've signed on for year two.

Serve BCM Students this Summer!

Create Academy

Our Create Academy program will serve 5th-8th grade students during the four weeks of July 5-29. Currently we are in need of volunteers to help with:

  1. Providing lunch by cooking or buying food for 40-50 students and summer staff.
  2. Serving lunch at 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
  3. Mentoring students in our afternoon STEAM electives from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
IMG_20140723_2246.JPG

Vacation Bible School

We will host two weeks of Vacation Bible School (VBS) this summer for local 1st-5th grade students. We will meet in the West Side neighborhood for August 1-5 at 12-3 p.m. and on our own campus for August 8-12 at 12-3 p.m.. Consider serving with this summer's VBS program through some of the following ways:

  1. Joining the Prep & Support team.
  2. Serving in the Lunch team.
  3. Co-leading a small group.
bayshore christian ministries_2015-rentzke_5648.jpg

Contact Holly at holly[at]bayshore[dot]org or (650) 327-9941 to serve!