Farewell Dyimah, Hello Kenné

We are excited to share that Kenné Johnson has joined our BCM team as Communications Associate!  With that comes the bittersweet news that God has provided new opportunities for Dyimah, who will be transitioning off BCM staff this month.  We wish Dyimah the best in this next season and look forward to serving alongside Kenne.  Please read on to hear from both Kenné and Dyimah. 

Hello from Kenné 

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Hello!  My name is Kenné Johnson and I’m a recent graduate from San Jose State University, where I studied graphic design. I am a first-generation college graduate and grew up in a community in Southern California that is very similar to East Palo Alto. During high school, I worked with my mother for her non-profit that feeds the homeless and supports teenage girls. I am excited to start my new role as Communications Associate for BCM. The mission of this organization has definitely hit home and I cannot wait to see how God works to utilize my skills to help build up the EPA community here at BCM. 

Farewell from Dyimah 

Dyimah Ansah.jpg

I remember my first interview with BCM staff as being warm and comfortable; I felt at ease, at home. In the interviews that followed I learned that Amy, BCM’s Director of Partner Development is my Aunt’s neighbor; what a coincidence! I prayed for an opportunity at BCM so when I received an offer letter I excitedly and gratefully accepted and came on part time as a Development Associate. I learned a few months later that a few of my cousins had also been BCM participants when there were younger; I even found a picture of one of my cousins when I was sorting through BCM’s archived photos. In all of these coincidences I saw God, telling me that this was where I needed to be.  

At BCM I was exposed to the many different sides of a nonprofit but also learned a lot about myself. Our weekly prayer meetings showed me (a person who thought she preferred studying Gods word alone) the importance of fellowship with others and re-motivated me to find my current church home. I was exposed to the marketing side through creating online campaigns; communication aspects through running our Instagram and writing our bi-weekly blogs; I learned about corporate funding through working closely with our grant writer and being tasked with writing a proposal and event planning through joining BCM’s banquet team and helping plan our 2018 banquet. I am so grateful for being invited to take part in the many different roles necessary to maintain the services BCM provides the community.  

Over the past year I’ve been pondering my career goals. I was confused about whether I wanted to get my MBA or go to law school and decided to do some research by first reaching out to people who were either 1) in law school 2) worked under a lawyer or 3) are a lawyer. The advice that I kept receiving was that I should first work under a lawyer before I decide to invest in law school. This threw a monkey wrench in my plans; I had intended to stay with BCM for at the least another full year to ponder and eventually make a decision about my career, but the advice I was getting revealed that I needed additional work experience. I love BCM, my job, my co-workers and our mission; I didn’t want to leave, but the more I prayed the more I felt like I was being called into something new. I remember praying one specific prayer, telling God that if he wanted me to leave BCM he would have to put an opportunity in my lap because I refused to fill out any applications or actively start looking for a job. Then one day (as a part of my research) I met with a lawyer whose office was five minutes away from my home. Our meeting was accidently scheduled during a time when he was supposed to be attending a cultural festival (Hmong New Year), so instead he invited me to accompany him to the festival! We enjoyed the festival and talked for about three hours about work, life, culture and lots more. I asked if he advised me to work under a lawyer before thinking about law school to which he answered yes as he informed me that his office had an open Legal Assistant position and asked if I was interested. I would not have to fill out any applications, just send references and have a formal interview with his office manager. I was hired soon there-after.  

I will never be able to fully communicate my appreciation for how BCM helped me grow. The amazing people at BCM have been mentors, listeners, friends and family in Christ. They say lightening doesn’t strike the same place twice but if I’m lucky, one day I will have another opportunity to be a part of a team like this one. 

Dear BCM.....

Jorge Peraza-Vasquez has been a part of the BCM family in many capacities. He was initially part of our tech program while in high school and then later served as a BCM intern, spoke on behalf of BCM at our partner churches, emceed at our banquet, and has been one of our scholarship recipients, all while being a college student!  Jorge was also part of the team that helped launch our late night study space this past year.  It is by God’s grace that you, our supporters, provide BCM with the resources to offer local college students the opportunity to partner with BCM in supporting EPA youth. Jorge sent BCM the following note to express his appreciation. 

Dear Bayshore Christian Ministries, 

I am writing this note to thank you for your unwavering support throughout my time in college. Receiving support from BCM was a great blessing to both my family and me. 

As a first-generation student, college is tough. There are many uncertainties, especially when it comes to financing education. Through this letter I want to express my gratitude towards BCM and your generous scholarship offerings. The financial relief not only lifted a burden from my family and me but allowed me to focus on gaining meaningful work opportunities in my respective field. These opportunities allowed me to expand my social capital and cultivate in-demand skills. 

BCM has also truly served as a second home for me as it was the place where I gained my first professional work experience during the summer before entering college. In addition to that, BCM allowed me the opportunity to develop some new skills I didn’t know I had, like emceeing. 

Thank you BCM for all you do! Your work is a true testament of your mission statement to “equip youth to grow spiritually, gain life skills and develop as leaders.” 

On May 28, 2019 I graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. I am grateful for the support throughout my college career and I am looking forward to continuing our relationship. 

Thank You, 

Jorge A. Peraza-Vasquez 

We are so grateful for God at work in Jorge’s life and ask that you would pray for him and other BCM alumni who have recently graduated college and are entering the workforce.   

Jorge emceeing at BCM’s 2018 banquet.

Jorge emceeing at BCM’s 2018 banquet.

Jorge strikes a pose with his summer 2014 BCM Intern cohort.

Jorge strikes a pose with his summer 2014 BCM Intern cohort.

Jorge speaking at one of BCM’s partner churches.

Jorge speaking at one of BCM’s partner churches.


A Farewell, From Kathy

We are incredibly grateful for the many volunteers who serve at BCM in a variety of ways.  Our board members play a crucial role behind the scenes, providing leadership, strategic direction and spiritual covering.  Kathy Welsh has been on our Board of Directors for the past four years and wanted to share these reflections on her time at BCM with you.  We are grateful for your service, Kathy! 

BCM and my church, Menlo Church, have been ministry partners for over 30 years. Being involved in missions in my church, I saw how well vetted our ministry partners are; my first introduction to BCM was through discovering that it was one of the local ministries supported by my church.  

A BCM board member I knew invited me to a banquet and then told me she thought I should consider being a board member. When I asked her why me, she told me “You would bring fresh eyes and you always say what you think.” I went ahead and submitted my application, knowing I had a lot to learn about the ministry in order to serve it well.  

In my first few months on the board, I attended the annual retreat at Redwood Christian Park. That was where I really got the sense of what a fun and playful spirit everyone at BCM has, while still taking the ministry and responsibilities seriously. I am so fond of everyone on staff and so impressed with their good work. The BCM staff are God’s hands and feet, they are his helpers.  

Children television's host Mr. Rogers said his mother responded to scary news by telling him, 'Look for the helpers.' As the problems faced by the East-of-Bayshore community have been more apparent to me, I have felt inspired to show up, learn more, and encourage the people who are doing good work. I found helpers at BCM and I want to introduce them to others. As the board chair, I spoke at the last two banquets, encouraging supporters to give generously and regularly.  

In addition to Bible Clubs, Mentoring, Tutoring and Robotics, an important part of the work of BCM is outreach and partnership development. When I attended the Social Justice Series led by Amy Joh on immigration, education inequality, and mass incarceration, I wanted to put her in front of more people who would appreciate their good teaching and advocated that she come to Menlo Church. Menlo Church and BCM ended up inviting Menlo’s congregation to attend a Saturday at BCM to learn about the history of East Palo Alto in addition to hosting the four-week Social Justice Series.  

I work at Stanford and I heard some young colleagues talking about their concerns over the immigration situation. One of them lived in East Palo Alto, so I asked her if she had heard of BCM. I sent her a link to the website and the next thing I knew, she was volunteering with the Leaders in Training high school mentoring program.  

At board meetings, I have had a window into the joys and challenges of running a nonprofit. A smooth-running board supports the Executive Director and BCM is fortunate to have dedicated board members whom I have enjoyed getting to know. In a few months, I will be rolling off the board, but my support for BCM will continue and I will follow God’s nudges to let others know about BCM. 

KATHY GIVING THE ASK AT  BCM'S BANQUET.

KATHY GIVING THE ASK AT  BCM'S BANQUET.

KATHY ATTENDS BCM MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING.

KATHY ATTENDS BCM MENTAL HEALTH TRAINING.

KATHY POSES FOR A PICTURE DURING BCM’S STAFF AND VOLUNTEER RETREAT.

KATHY POSES FOR A PICTURE DURING BCM’S STAFF AND VOLUNTEER RETREAT.

UYWI Through a BCM Lens

“This is my 3rd year attending the conference. This has got to be my favorite year attending. God spoke to me in so many ways, prophetically through others, through the messages and in worship.” - Leslie. The Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI) is “a national non-profit organization that trains & resources urban youth workers to effectively evangelize and disciple youth in at-risk cities throughout the US.” UYWI’s mission is “to power the urban youth worker so that urban youth have the leaders and role models they need to live transformed lives by the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and they hope to touch the lives of 75,000 youth through the discipleship of their local youth workers by 2020. Every year UYWI hosts a conference and invite youth workers near and far to attend. This year, a few of our program staff and volunteers attended the conference. Our staff members, Leslie and Jordan, spoke about their experience: 

Leslie; Bible Club Program Manager 

1) Why did you decide to attend the conference? I use this time as a time of refreshing, renewing and some much, needed rest. Hearing from the Lord through his many servants through the general sessions and workshops. I believe that we need to be constantly learning on a daily basis and I use this time at the conference for that. 

2) Was there anything you learned that surprised you? Not so much a surprise but a great reminder of how important and how crucial our ministries are. 

3) Was there anything you learned that validated a way in which you already approach youth ministry? I attended a workshop called ACE's and Trauma Informed Ministry. The speaker spoke about re-traumatization and the importance for youth workers to know that youth are going through trauma in their lives and to provide a place of safety, trust and respect and not a place where kids are put through the same trauma they've experienced before. 

4) What is your main takeaway from the conference that you feel you can apply to your own programs? My main take away would be self-care and the importance of Rest. God says in Matthew 11:28-30; 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.' Many are burned out and tired due to no rest. If God rested, then who are we not to also receive that same rest. We continuously pour out into our ministries but need to realize that we need to take time to Recognize, Refuel, Reach Out, Re-evaluate, Receive and be Refilled. 5 R's for Rest in God. Also, we must consider that if we need rest so do the youth that we serve. Imagine what their day has been like and give that the space and time to also rest in God. (Come and Enter into the REST of God by Pastor Geneva Miller) 

5) Would you recommend this conference to others in youth ministry? If you what would you say? I would recommend this conference to everyone not just to people who work with Youth. Parents, grandparents, and people who have kids could totally benefit from this conference. 

 
Jordan; Streetworkz Program Manager  

This is my 3rd time at UYWI. I'm grateful that BCM gives us the opportunity to attend each year.   

I always find it encouraging to be in a room filled with people from all over the country doing the same kind of work, facing the same kind of challenges, and feeling the same joy and pain that is part of the work that we do. Worshipping and learning with a group like that gives me hope.  

There are always great speakers, workshops and resources. I appreciate that the workshops are very relevant to the lives and challenges of my students, or my own life and questions as a program manager in ministry. The conference is also filled with testimonies of people who have been doing this work for much longer than I have, which is always encouraging and inspiring.  

Listening to so many veteran youth workers allows me to find new perspective. I feel validated both in my approach–prioritizing relationships with students and focusing on creating a loving, caring environment for them—as well as in the tensions, frustrations and difficulties that arise. And of course, there are always fresh ideas and tools to bring back to my own program. 

Pictured is UYWI’s welcome sign.

Pictured is UYWI’s welcome sign.

Pictured are the BCM staff members and volunteers who attended the UYWI conference.

Pictured are the BCM staff members and volunteers who attended the UYWI conference.

Pictured is one of the musical performances at UYWI.

Pictured is one of the musical performances at UYWI.

A Creative Summer 2019

Alejandra grew up in Redwood City and then moved to East Palo Alto (EPA) as an adult. With EPA’s history and reputation, she was hesitant about enrolling her children in any programs. “I was just a little scared of the new and unknown in EPA. Are they going to be bullied? Are they going to pick up bad habits?” On top of that, Alejandra’s children have always gone to school outside of EPA’s school district, which contributed to her feeling disconnected from the community. Having a full-time job, Alejandra had no choice but to find a local program for her children over the summer.  “As a working parent, I needed a program that was affordable and would keep them busy.” She began her online search for a summer program that catered to middle school students and stumbled upon BCM’s CREATE Academy. CREATE’s STEAM focus caught Alejandra’s attention and its affordability sealed the deal, and so she decided to give BCM a chance.  

CREATE Academy is a 6-week, full-day summer camp available to rising 6th through 8th grades. CREATE students are instructed in mathematics, science, technology and art to strengthen their critical thinking and mathematics skills, as well as grow their confidence in preparation for future opportunities in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) programs and careers. 

“They had so much fun their first year in CREATE, that the next year I got my other nieces and nephews to come to CREATE Academy as well!” said Alejandra as she spoke about her children's experience with CREATE Academy. “At first my brother was like me; he was hesitant about entrusting his kids in EPA but with BCM but I told him to just try it! Now my nieces and nephews want to attend CREATE Academy again this year!” Alejandra spoke about how important CREATE Academy’s STEAM focus was and how she felt l it really benefited her children and expanded their knowledge of possible career fields. “They really loved the film class.” said Alejandra as she spoke about how one year, CREATE Academy offered a film class that her children thoroughly enjoyed. 

“I can see that they are more confident and have made new friends, some of which have come over to our house,” said Alejandra as she discussed the changes she has seen in her children since they have become a part of the BCM family, attending both summer and school year programming. She went on to discuss how the relationships her children have made at BCM are not superficial, but long lasting, which she said they were lacking before. When asked if she would recommend BCM to other parents, Alejandra said, “Oh yes absolutely! If your child is not doing anything, do you want to keep them busy and learning or just have them sit at home and play video games?!” she continued with a hearty laugh.  “It wasn’t easy to find out about BCM, but once I found BCM I loved it! I like the benefits and the exposure to different things it gives my kids. I had to really look but I am so grateful for BCM and blessed to have found this place.” 

 

 

Students perform the dance routine they learned in CREATE’s dance class.

Students perform the dance routine they learned in CREATE’s dance class.

Students display the art they created in CREATE art.

Students display the art they created in CREATE art.

Students perform the song they learned during their vocal class.

Students perform the song they learned during their vocal class.

LiT Retreat 2019: What is Your Story?

LiT Retreat 2019: What is Your Story? 

Encouraging students to share their stories and see how God is at work through our stories 

 

Ari, BCM Staff 

There are so many great stories from the retreat. Our focus was on sharing testimonies and encouraging students to tell their stories and understand how God works through our stories.  Many of the students were able to see LiT as an expression of God’s faithfulness and left the retreat desiring more consistency and accountability within the program.   

The students volunteered Ricky* to be interviewed because he had a breakthrough at our retreat. It was a little tricky getting him to talk, but, wow, the difference in him before and after the retreat is awesome! He used to never answer our questions or barely say hi or talk to us at program, and now we can't get him to stop talking.  He was even willing to be interviewed for this blog (see his perspective on the retreat below). 

Another one of our students said this during our debrief when talking about a student that couldn't attend the retreat, "I think the retreat really changed us [the dynamic of the group]. You can tell we're really a family now. Now we just gotta do the work to get Megan* into the family." 
 

Ricky*, Student 

What made you want to attend the retreat? I’ve been to past retreats and it was pretty cool, and I learned a lot about other people 

Have you learned anything new about yourself through this experience? I would say yes, because I was really quiet and after the retreat everyone says I talk a lot now, I don’t know if that is a good thing or bad thing. 

Did you learn something new about any of your peers? I learned that a lot of my peers go through the same struggles, we are not all alone, we can relate with some things 

Were you able to witness a moment of growth in your peers or yourself during the retreat? We all got really close. I shared my story, and then everybody hugged me. After hearing everyone’s stories and knowing what they went through and relating to it, I look at them differently, I got a new perspective and I have more respect for them. 

How did you feel while you were sharing your story? It was weird because I’ve never done that out loud, where everyone could hear me; afterward I felt relief. 

What was your favorite part of the retreat? I liked the boardwalk; it was fun, but it was cold. I went on the Giant Dipper. 

Final thoughts about your overall experience? I would say it was eye opening.  

Would you recommend that other LiT students attend the retreat? I would say that it is a good experience, and you will enjoy it, you get to learn about yourself and other people, and you get to go to the boardwalk! 

 

Jane, Volunteer 

Being that you are a volunteer, what prompted you to attend the retreat? As a newer volunteer, I wanted to attend the retreat to get to know the kids more as well as help facilitate an environment where the kids felt like they could be open about the challenges they were facing. 

Have you learned anything new about yourself through this experience? The theme of the retreat was "What is Your Story?" I learned that my story was worth sharing. I also learned that I have so much more love to give these students and I'm really excited to continue to help them grow through what we do at LiT. 

Did you learn something new about any of BCM’s students? If so, what? I learned that one student can sleep more than anyone, another can speak above a mumble, and one of our more reserved students can give hugs.  More importantly, I learned that the BCM students are filled with so much love for those around them, from their families to each other to their identities. 

Were you able to witness a moment of growth in any of our students during the retreat? Definitely, the students were challenged to step out of their comfort zones and they rose to the challenge. They each were able to find something they genuinely enjoyed about the retreat and learned about themselves - all without a phone! I saw them grow respect for each other as they listened to each other's stories. 

What was your favorite part of the retreat? There were too many! I'll go with the bonfires - the real one and the fake one. The real bonfire was a night of casual fun and s'mores making. Everyone shared fun and scary stories. The fake bonfire was created by the staff using Christmas lights. It was a night of bonding and sharing personal experiences. 

Final thoughts about your overall experience? Having gone on retreats previously, I was excited because I knew that the students would grow as a family. I didn't expect that I would also learn things about myself, especially realizing that experiences I thought were normal were actually a privilege that I had. It was a truly humbling experience to share with the students and I'm really grateful for it. 

Would you recommend that other volunteers attend the retreat? If so, what would you say? Definitely. It's a chance to bond with the students as well as help them grow their values and identities. 

 

*Name changed to protect student privacy 

LiT students and volunteers pose for a picture during a hike.

LiT students and volunteers pose for a picture during a hike.

LiT students and volunteers assemble into teams and compete during the outdoor games.

LiT students and volunteers assemble into teams and compete during the outdoor games.

LiT students pose for a picture in from of the entrance to Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk.

LiT students pose for a picture in from of the entrance to Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk.

When Kings Academy Meets BCM

“I had a hard time seeing God at work through me at the beginning because I didn’t see how playing with kids qualified as ‘service.’”  I had defined service as life-changing acts such as building as house.  Throughout the week, though, I realized that service is sometimes just playing with a kid so they know they matter.  I really appreciated my time here and how it changed my perspective of how God can use me.“ -King’s Academy student. Every year King’s Academy (Sunnyvale) partners with BCM to serve our students for a week during the month of April. This year, 5 adult leaders and 14 King’s Academy juniors and seniors immersed themselves in our community for a week. Their experience consisted of supporting BCM programs and hosting our annual Family Fun Day (complete with a staff Easter egg hunt!), leading recess activities at Ravenswood Middle School, and supporting New Creation Home Ministries.  In addition to serving, they also spent time learning about the history and present-day dynamics of our community, including learning modules on immigration and mass incarceration. We caught up with Mary Jane and Sarah from King’s Academy; read on to hear about the trip from their perspectives. 

 

Mary Jane (King’s Academy Adult Leader) 

Why does the King’s Academy Team continue to serve BCM/EPA? King’s does a lot of immersion trips, about 10 each year, and we are starting to have more local immersion trips because we have a lot of amazing ministries like BCM. We have a lot to give and a lot to receive and we hope our students create an ongoing relationship with local ministries. Exposing Kings’ students to people that have different experiences and who live just 5 miles away will raise their awareness and give them the opportunity to get to know people in the local community. We love BCM and enjoy stepping into BCM’s ministry.  

What aspects are rewarding? I love being with kids of any age; I’m a teacher and have committed my life to kids. I liked to be able to play with kids during recess and get to know them, have Bible Club and teach them about Christ and it’s been very fun tutoring the kids through KidSmart. 

What has been challenging?  Working with King’s students who may be nervous about how to interact with BCM students.  

How was this year compared to last year? We have a different group of students this year and I really feel like they have hit the ground running and been very involved and willing to get to know the kids and build relationships.  

What do you see the King’s students gaining from this experience? 

The learning modules and the overview of the history of EPA and the system of mass incarceration have been very impactful and insightful. The students have been very well prepared in learning about the community of EPA.    

Any last thoughts? Partnering with BCM is a very important ministry for King’s to continue. BCM’s learning modules are great and give King’s kids the opportunity to serve well while learning about the community. I really hope and pray that we will continue to maintain this partnership with BCM. 

 

Sarah (King's Academy High School Student) 

Why did you decide to serve at BCM/EPA this year? My sister Emily was on the trip last year and she said that it was a lot of fun and that I should try it out.   I also really like working with local ministries because it is a good way to learn about my own community. 

How has your experience been? I’m loving it!  I love working with the kids and getting to know them one on one, especially during tutoring or simply playing with them during recess.  I was greatly impacted by the kids and their sweet personalities. I thought that I was going to come in and make a difference, but I ended up learning and being impacted more than I expected. 

What has been challenging? Second guessing if the kids will like me or not and being hesitant because of that fear. 

What aspects are rewarding? Learning about the issues in EPA and being able to connect people and stories to these issues. I can’t just sit back and pretend that these issues, like mass incarceration and immigration, are just pollical and being blown out of proportion because I see the people with my own eyes who are being affected. 

Would you recommend this trip to friends? Yes! I love how much the trip brings people together, and it’s been very eye opening being able to see the people being affected by the issues in this community; it puts things into perspective. 

A Kings student helps a BCM student with his reading.

A Kings student helps a BCM student with his reading.

Kings and BCM students decorate cookies together.

Kings and BCM students decorate cookies together.

A Kings student helps a BCM student with her math homework.

A Kings student helps a BCM student with her math homework.

Our Middle School (Streetworkz) Retreat

Volunteer: Olivia 

Why did you feel called to attend the retreat? The Streetworkz students look forward to the retreat all year, so I was excited to get to experience the full weekend with them. It is such a special time for them, so I wanted to help make it as fun and meaningful as possible. 

What did you enjoy about spending time with BCM students in this type of setting? It was great getting to spend a full weekend with the students. Normally during program, we need to keep things moving so that we can accomplish everything on the agenda; so, it was nice to get to spend more unstructured, free time with them. 

Was there anything surprising/interesting you learned about one or more of our students? I learned that Julissa really does not like rollercoasters...but I don't know if that's relevant. ;) 

Did you witness any moments of growth in our students? On one of the nights we had a sharing time and a few of the students professed about challenges they are facing in their lives. Often, it can be difficult to get middle schoolers to let their guard down and share what's really on their hearts, so it was awesome that they felt safe and comfortable enough to do so. 

Did this experience give you a new perspective about the students or yourself? It was cool to take a step back and watch the students interact with and learn from the Hope volunteers. Through the Hope volunteers’ hard work and preparation, the Streetworkz students were able to learn and form strong relationships. 

What are your overall thoughts about the retreat? The retreat is such a fun and memorable way to bond with the students. I'm glad BCM does such a great job of providing them opportunities to learn and grow by adventuring outside of EPA. 

 

Hope Student: Jacob 

Why did you feel called to come all the way from Michigan to serve East Palo Alto Students? “Last summer I spent 3 months in Poland; it was a leap of faith, a God thing that made that possible. He showed me the changes I need to make and called me to be a leader. I believe it is something God put on my life; he really convicted me on that trip.” 

Jacob returned to the US thinking, 'What can I do to make God the center?'. He felt called to continue participating in activities that centered his love for sharing God’s word which led him to apply for the immersions trip BCM offers to HOPE students. 

Was there anything you learned about one or more of our students? “I love how funny they are, these kids have a fantastic sense of humor and it was so great to experience; they have big personalities.” 

Did you witness any moments of growth in our students? “One boy in particular was a class clown and he didn’t seem to take the spiritual stuff seriously” said Jacob.  

Jacob went on to share how during the camp fire, students were invited to share their own struggles and that same student became vulnerable with Jacob and revealed his own issues. “I was surprised how deep thinking they are.” said Jacob, as he recalled that conversation he had with our student.  

Jacob noticed another student who was in deep thought but did not want to share: ”I told him that I will be here for him to talk, and if now is not the time there will be other people in his life that God will provide for him to talk with.” 

Did this experience result in your own personal growth? In what ways? “It was really great having that experience working with babies; given the opportunity to teach and simplify the bible for kids those age.” said Jacob referring to working with our Bible Club students after the retreat. He went on to say that this was less of a growth experience and more of a confirmation that sharing God’s word is his calling.  

What are your overall thoughts about the retreat, and would you recommend this experience to other Hope students? “I would definitely recommend it especially to education majors. I am seeing so much growth in my friends on this trip who are education majors and confidence in knowing that this is the right place for them. For me, it was great to see that God is working everywhere and how he is touching [BCM students] lives just as he touches the lives of people back home. God is big and he is reaching everyone; it’s so nice to know that my God is everywhere.” 

 

BCM Student: Jeremiah  

Why did you decide to go to the retreat? “Because it is my last time” said Jeremiah referring to this being his last year before he ages out of Streetworkz. 

What was your favorite part of the retreat? “My favorite part was when we started doing the games, like throwing the cheese balls and capture the flag and the noodle ninja. It’s a time when we can get competitive and work as a team.” 

Did you learn anything new about yourself? “That I have an existence here and God is always going to be there through the hard times; just whenever I need him, he will be there for me.” 

Did you learn anything new about God? “That he is faithful, just, powerful. He brought justice to all of us and he is faithful and gives faith to others.” 

What are you overall thoughts about the retreat and would you recommend it to other? “Yes of course! It is very fun and gets everyone together; you’re going to learn what God is.”  

Jeremiah went on to share how he enjoyed meeting and getting to know the HOPE students stating, “I always find that one perfect HOPE student!” 

 

Streetworkz students pose for a picture in front of Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk.

Streetworkz students pose for a picture in front of Santa Cruz Beach and Boardwalk.

Students play outdoor games during the retreat.

Students play outdoor games during the retreat.

Here is one of the four teams of students formed to compete during the retreat outdoor games.

Here is one of the four teams of students formed to compete during the retreat outdoor games.

A Streetworkz Volunteer

“I love working with kids,” Olivia, one of our Streetworkz volunteers, said enthusiastically. She went on to tell us about why she decided to volunteer at Streetworkz and her overall experience with BCM.  

 

BCM: Tell us about how you got connected to BCM. 

OLIVIA: I moved into the East Palo Alto area in early 2018 and decided to Google search Christian organizations to volunteer at. I was intentionally seeking opportunities to volunteer with children, and it seemed that BCM was a perfect fit. 

BCM: How are you able to incorporate volunteer work as a young professional? 

OLIVIA: BCM is only a hop, skip and a jump away from where I work; it’s something I want to do so it is not hard to make it happen. 

 

BCM: What is difficult about working with BCM students? 

OLIVIA: It’s a challenge, outside of my comfort zone. I’d never worked with this specific age group before volunteering at BCM. The difference is how long it takes kids to open-up; there’s a lot fewer walls built up when they are younger. 

 

BCM: What have you learned about yourself through working with our students? 

OLIVIA: Recognizing my privilege. I didn’t know about the issues they had to deal with, how different my realities were when I was young. When I compare the education and environment I had access to growing up to that of BCM students it’s obvious that the outside pressures BCM students face affect them. 

 

BCM: What are you looking forward to as you build relationships with our students? 

OLIVIA: A lot of the students have big personalities; I’m looking forward to having more meaningful conversations. 

 

BCM: Any other thoughts about your experience as one of BCM’s spiritual mentors? 

OLIVIA: It’s nice to have a community of adults working together to support our students. 

 

We are grateful for Olivia and many others who serve as spiritual mentors for our students. Please keep them in prayer as they guide our youth and share God’s love at BCM each week. 

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Pose!

Olivia poses with our students for a picture.

                                                                                                   

Justice Series

Bayshore Christian Ministries is pleased to offer a four-week Justice Series presented by Amy Joh about key social justice topics affecting our community.  Our desire is to support partner churches and organizations as they seek to understand justice issues and discern how to respond as Christians. The series begins with Immigration which explores the basic understanding of how the US immigration system works, reviews misconceptions and studies Scripture about immigrants. Next, we dive into Educational Injustice and the disparity in our education system between wealthy and low-income schools, the effect of race on education and what responsibility Christians have for our education system.  We then discuss Mass Incarceration and examine the dramatic increase in incarceration in America, especially the disproportionate number of African Americans and Latinos imprisoned, and how the Church should respond to those who have been criminalized. We end with Love Your Neighbor As Yourself (Debrief, Processing and Next Steps) a space to process with other Christ followers and explore possible responses to these justice issues. The three main goals for our series are to promote:

  • TRUTH: Establish a knowledge base of facts and scripture about current issues that can be used as a foundation to respond to injustice and as a tool for conversation with others.

  • JUSTICE: Encourage the Church to confront systems of inequality through intentional relationships, service, integration of work and faith, finances, advocacy and prayer.

  • COMPASSION: Cultivate compassion for those in our country who are affected by unjust systems and humanize the experience of the marginalized.

Our most recent social justice workshops were held at Chinese Church in Christ Milpitas, Cru Winter Conference, Highway Community Church, Home of Christ Menlo Park, King's Academy, Menlo Church (Menlo Park and San Jose campuses), Peninsula Covenant Church and Valley Church.

Here’s what some of the participants had to say:

How did you see God at work in you or in your church through the series?

  • It brought together a community of concerned members who know they can work together when they feel inspired to take action.

  • It prompted me to volunteer and get to know a community I had not worked with before.

  • He just opened my eyes to the injustice in my own community, and I struggled with some of the topics. Our church got involved (mostly short term) in many projects to help others. I think a lot of God's work is internal in these matters, and He changes our thinking about things.

What was worthwhile about attending the Social Justice Series?

  • It keeps the issues in front of me and keeps me asking what I can do about social justice or the lack of it.

  • Learning about inequality in education, and more about inequality in incarceration.

  • It addresses major topics with facts.

  • I think Christians need to know what is presented in this series so they can respond.

  • Very informational and I would recommend highly.  I've already been sharing with others. Also still pondering the issues from a biblical perspective, from a political perspective, and from a personal perspective.

What are the strengths of the series?

  • Awareness. I found it valuable to avoid presenting a solution which could be perceived as liberal or conservative. Maintaining neutrality while presenting facts helped convey messages - then leave God and Holy Spirit to work on moving each person's heart. Have received positive feedback from the youth as well.

  • GREAT info! Amy did great job of presenting. Good issues that people were concerned about. I liked that pre-reading/watching was suggested prior to each session topic.  It refutes misinformation.

  • I definitely left feeling more informed; some of the topics I had never even thought were social justice issues. I would recommend it to others, and I had some good conversations afterwards.

We are grateful for the way God is at work and drawing us together through these important conversations. If you are interested in having a BCM staff come and teach at your church or small group, please contact amy@bayshore.org.

In this picture Amy gives the Justice Series presentation.

In this picture Amy gives the Justice Series presentation.

Our Mental Health Themed Retreat

We are privileged to have moments like we did at the beginning of this month to gather as staff, board and volunteers for training, prayer and fellowship.  We began with a staff discussion on the importance of self-care from the lens of professionals in an organization that is rooted in service to others.  Jeremy Easton, Co-Director at the Christian Counseling Center in San Jose led the discussion and our church partner Highway Community graciously hosted us.  The second day our staff, board and volunteers gathered at Vallombrosa Center where Lety Arreola-Garcia, the Mental Health Services Coordinator at Children’s Health Council and also an active member of our community, gave an engaging presentation about the most prevalent mental health stressors EPA youth face. After lunch, where we were led in guided prayer by Seth Dickson, the City Director at ReWire and a long-time supporter of BCM.

 Here’s what our BCM family had too say about our time together:

 

Why did you decide to give up a Saturday to BCM?

  • I hear the students in Streetworkz regularly talk about all the stressors and challenges they face, both expected of the typical middle school experience (eg. grades, friends, parents), as well as those far beyond what they should have to contend with (eg. drugs, violence, death). I wanted to learn more about mental health and strategies to support them so I could be more helpful when conversations around these topics arise.

  • I think it is important to constantly stay up to date when working with kids and understand the responsibility we have when we're around them.

  •   I'm still fairly new to the BCM high school program and am still learning about issues facing the community. I wanted to learn more about ways to help, or at least not harm, when volunteering.

 

Surprises

  •   The number of housing insecure kids in the community.

  •   One thing that surprised me was how even those volunteers and staff members who had worked with kids in EPA for many years still struggled with some of the same challenges I do around how to best support the students when they are struggling.

  • The point about how kids are being affected by the housing crisis, especially those who are still here but are losing their friends and family who move away.

  • I learned that we are already doing a lot of things right.  I also learned that a big hurdle is just feeling equipped to be in a conversation about mental health even if we are not experts.

 

  Leaving equipped

  •   It encouraged me to continue pressing forward with mental health training for staff and making sure volunteers get the level of training necessary to support our students.

  • By learning the signs to look out for when working with students it helps us assess situations better and it's comforting that we can always consult with each other because we've all done the work-shop together. 

  • It reminded me that whenever a kid comes in and they act disgruntled that I need to ask them more questions.

 

Self-Care

  •   I plan to take deliberate time for self-care to re-center and get away so I can allow myself to feel my emotions and then return to daily activities.

  •   I plan to practice getting into a prayer posture before I pray and study God’s word.

  •   Because of my experience I totally understand the importance of self-care; I eat healthy, read books, meditate and do what I need to do to self-care. The first day of the retreat really confirmed what I was already doing.

 

Anything else?

  •   The retreat was very helpful and the speaker (Lety) was great because she is from the community.

  •   I feel like it gave me even more insight which prompted me to do more research and be more compassionate.

  •    I would definitely recommend the retreat to others. It was a good balance of theory, social and prayer time. It allowed us to digest what we had learned and think about how we can be of support to the students through prayer. 

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Lecture

Pictured, Lety Arreola-Garcia gives her lecture about the mental health struggles students face.

Be Our Valentine

Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! In the spirit of love, we invite you to take part in at least one of the following three easy ways to love on BCM this Valentine’s Day.

Write a review for BCM on Google or Facebook                                                                                                   Help us collect testimonials about BCM to better understand the things we are doing right as well as what we need to improve, and to increase BCM’s visibility to the community. BCM no longer wants to be ‘the best kept secret’ in East Palo Alto, so help us spread the word!

“I rated BCM a 5 stars on Facebook because I believe in their mission. I've been a participant, a staff, and a volunteer. Since my involvement in 2013, I have witnessed the way BCM has not only transformed my life, but the lives of my peers. BCM feels like a home away from home and out of all the organizations in the city, it feels the most genuine. I know that whatever endeavors I take on, BCM will always be there to support me! To me, it is important to support BCM this way because I want others to know how much of an impact BCM has on the community. BCM is not just a non-profit organization, but they constantly seek to provide resources for not only their students, but also community members within the area.” Jorge, via Facebook

 To rate/review BCM Via Google:

1)      Sign into Google (using your Gmail account)                                                                                

2)      Search for BCM on Google                                                                                                                     

3)      Click the reviews section to leave a review                                                                                     

4)      Select star rating, write review and submit

To recommend/review BCM Via Facebook:

1)      Log into your Facebook account

2)      Search Bayshore Christian Ministries and select our page

3)      Scroll down to ‘Recommendations and Reviews’

4)      Click YES in response to the “Do you want to review Bayshore Christian Ministries” prompt

5)      Write and submit a review


 Join our Prayer Team                                                                                                                                               “And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” –Acts 4:31 The Lord has always called us to fellowship together in prayer and your prayers and praises on behalf of our ministry are significant.  There is strength in numbers and a feeling of unity when seeking our Savior together.  

“Prayer is the most powerful when we need guidance and wisdom. We have this awesome privilege to take everything to God in prayer because of His great love for us; I have experienced the joy of many answered prayers. Praying as a team is great because Jesus tells us where two or three are gathered in His name, He will be there in the midst. May God richly bless BCM’s efforts as they reach out to serve the young people.” Inez, current BCM prayer team member.

 Join BCM’s Prayer Team by contacting Amy at amy@bayshore.org


Become a Monthly Giver                                                                                                                                            Monthly Givers provide greater financial stability to BCM by allowing us to predict cash flow and budget for our programs every month, cut fundraising costs and redirect those funds to our programs and lastly, help continue the work God is doing in our community through their generosity.

“Though the largest part of our monthly charitable giving goes to our local church and reaching the community that our church is), we wanted to give monthly so students in East Palo Alto and Belle Haven could learn about God and have a safe place that would invest in their future and walk with them through some of the most important life-shaping years.  I also believe that giving monthly shows the staff that there are people behind them supporting their hard work.” Cassie, monthly giver

To Become a monthly giver (online)

1)      Click the following link https://www.classy.org/give/158554/#!/donation/checkout

2)      Select/type in the amount you would like to give

3)      Select “Monthly” to indicate you would like to give a monthly gift

4)      Fill out credit/debit card information

5)      Confirm monthly gift.

 If you would like to give monthly via Paypal or physical checks, please contact Dyimah at dyimah@bayshore.org

Meeting New Staff Members

We are pleased to introduce our new Director of Ministries Andrew and our new Operations Manager Jennifer. Both have history with BCM and are excited about returning. Here are their thoughts about rejoining the BCM family.


I was one of BCM's founders and served as Executive Director until 2008, then moved to Austin, Texas and worked in a variety of educational settings and consulting projects.  Some of the consulting projects were exciting -- especially working with Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in the Bay Area and with The Refuge (Home for Domestic Minor Victims of Sex Trafficking) in Austin -- but they were short-term. Teaching was more stable but did not seem like a calling.  

 In January 2018 started my beautiful job with Austin Bridge Builders Alliance (ABBA) but in June it came to an unexpected end.  I loved the work of building collaborations among Christian leaders from churches, businesses, non-profits and government. But the ABBA board determined a new direction for the ministry which left no place for me or for the relationships I'd developed.  So, I went into job search mode.  When the search wasn't ending as quickly as I wanted, I began to look outside of the Austin area.  I had two live prospects outside of Texas when I received the newsletter celebrating Cassie Arnold as she stepped down from the Director of Ministries position. "Wait a minute, if I am thinking about jobs in Arkansas and Washington, I have to at least look at the possibility of coming home to the places, people and ministry that I love." That led to a conversation that led to an application, that led to my return to BCM as the Director of Ministries. 

 I am so excited to return to the Bay Area, to East Palo Alto, and especially, to Bayshore Christian Ministries.  I have remained in relationship with the ministry and with Rolando Zeledon in particular.  I have tremendous respect for his leadership and am happy to be able to serve with him in a new role.  I have been so encouraged to see the ways that BCM has thrived and grown over the years -- especially in community partnerships and the technological focus. The program managers that I'll be working with are terrific.  I am impressed with their motivation and care for youth and am excited to work with them, renew relationships with families and leaders in the community, and to participate in the great work God continues to do through this ministry. What a joy it is to enter into this new season of ministering in a place that I know and love well. 

—Andrew 


I was born in East Palo Alto and raised between here and Chesterfield, VA.  Throughout the years I lived in CA, I attended BCM year-round during elementary and middle school. During my time and participation in KidSmart, StreetWorkz and SAIL, I was mentored by so many amazing people and created unforgettable memories and relationships. I was inspired to attend an HBCU after high school and contribute to various activities that allowed me to empower youth in underprivileged communities.  I attended colleges in Texas (PVAMU) and Virginia (VSU) pursuing a computer engineering degree. During my time in Virginia, I got married and had a beautiful baby girl. We found our way back to the Bay Area shortly after. Nowadays, when I’m not running all over the Bay Area with my active daughter, I find myself painting, writing poetry, watching anime, trying new foods and traveling.  I also enjoy teaching Sunday school at South Bay Community Church.   

 I have happily accepted the opportunity to serve BCM as their Operations Associate. I am grateful to be able to give back to East Palo Alto in such a meaningful way that contributes to the education of and care for our youth. In the future, I plan to continue my education in the field of computer and electrical engineering in which I would love to create a bridge between both my academic passion and my personal passion. 

—Jennifer

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Pose!

Jennifer (center) poses for a picture with some of her BCM friends. (Picture taken in 04)

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Throw back!

Here is a picture of Andrew taken in 1991.

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Outting

Here Jennifer and a large of students take a picture during a BCM outing to Universal Studios. (Picture taken in 2006)

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Boys Club

Here Andrew and another staff member poses with the “Boys Club”. (Picture taken in 2004)

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Beach Fun

Here Jennifer poses with some friends at the beach during BCM’s Spring Camp 2007.

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Funny Faces

Here Andrew and some BCM students take a silly photo. (Picture taken in 2006)

A KidSmart Parent

“I found out about BCM from my sister, who had been introduced by someone at church” said Julie*, a BCM parent. She and four of her children have been with BCM for the last 13 years; the eldest is now in Lit, our high school program, while the younger ones participate in KidSmart, our after-school program for elementary students.

“When my daughter first [enrolled in BCM] she was behind in her reading,” said Julie as she discussed how English is her daughter’s second language and that she speaks Tongan fluently. Before Julie was introduced to BCM, she had her children enrolled at another local after school program but noticed that she was not seeing the improvements in her daughter’s reading skills that she knew her daughter was capable of making, so decided to give BCM a try. “BCM really helped her a lot; it did not take long to bring her up to reading at grade level.” Julie went on to discuss how her children are always telling her good things about their experience at BCM and how they are never afraid to ask for help on their homework. “BCM helps them with the classes they struggle with.”

Julie is not only a BCM parent but also an enthusiastic advocate for her friends and family whose children, she feels, could benefit from attending BCM programs. When asked if she had ever spread the word about BCM Julie excitedly responded “I did! And they came! The people I recommended to BCM have been there for a few years now.” In the past, Julie has even picked up applications and brought them to the families she was encouraging to enroll their children.

“I love how [BCM] has dance classes!” Julie said as she spoke about how her kids, who are in sports, have BCM’s dance classes as an outlet to work off some energy during their sports off seasons. She went on to say that one thing she would love to see make a return to BCM’s program agenda would be music classes as she reminisced about the time her son was taking guitar lessons through BCM.

“What BCM is doing right now is fabulous,” said Julie as we neared the closing of our conversation. In her final thoughts about why she and her children have stayed with BCM over the past 13 years, Julie said, “I just fell in love with how they treat the kids; I know they care.”

 

*Name change for privacy

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Smile!

A KidSmart students smiles for a picture during class.

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Lets Play

KidSmart students play in the leaves during recess.

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Reading

A KidSmart Student looks up from her reading to take a picture.

Robotics

On November 18th our two robotics teams, the Spartans and the Knights, competed in a scrimmage. The competition consists of four parts: a team presentation about their values as competitors, a presentation about their research project, a presentation regarding the design/function of their robots and the actual robot competition. For the competition portion, two students called ‘Drivers’ go up for their team and prepare the robots for the challenges. There are ten challenges and the robots are programmed to complete as many as possible within 2.5 minutes to maximize points. Here are some comments from Greg, our head Robotics coach, about how the competition went:

“The Spartans and the Knights competed in three rounds of robot competition as well as the judging elements.  It was a full day of activity and overall, I'm proud of our showing.  The Spartans had an impressive and capable robot, but unfortunately had trouble scoring consistently in their rounds.  The Knights were able to score a perfect run with an efficient robot, hitting all 5 of their missions.  On the judged portions, both teams thought they performed well (scoring rubrics to come).  

 After the tournament, here is what a few families had to say about the impact of the program on their kids:

 “[My son] always looks forward to his LEGO robotics class, he enjoys this program a lot. He says it feels like family. I feel confident and happy every time I drop him off.”

 “I think this would be [my daughter’s] 3rd year in robotics. CONFIDENCE: Robotics has helped increase her confidence. I see how she communicates with her teammates and isn't scared to share her thoughts.  I also notice how the kids are challenged to really put their thinking caps on to figure out challenges. She really enjoyed her role."

 Our Executive Director Rolando, who also had a chance to see the team in action, commented saying “What I love about our robotics teams is that it allows our kids to compete with the best; our kids can hold their own compared to higher resourced teams.”

  Some of our Robotic students said the following about their experience:

“The best part about competing against other teams is seeing what they have to share.”

“My favorite part about Robotics is building the robots because we work together.”

 Although our students did not place this year, we are proud of their efforts and positive attitudes and are excitedly awaiting the Sumo Robotics competition.

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Competition

Judges watch and rate the missions our students complete.

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Robot Construction

Students work together to build their robots.

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Test Run

Students and coaches gather to do a test run before the competition.

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us! And we wanted to share what our staff, board, students, parents and volunteers are thankful for. Here are some of the answers we received from the following questions: What are you thankful for? What about BCM are you thankful for?

 

CREATE Students

“For me to be alive and to have people that love and care for me.”

“How [BCM] feels like a family.”

“I am thankful for every [BCM] volunteer.”

KidSmart Students

“I am thankful for help with my spelling.”

“I am thankful for other [BCM] students; we help each other.”

“Family; they give me a roof over my head and pay for my schooling.”

Bible Club Students

“My mom because my mom provides food for me.”

“I am thankful for Bible Club.”

“Family, cat, people, school, Jesus, Christmas, God.”

Lit Students

“I am thankful for my best friend because she’s always there for me.”

“LiT helps me get through tough times in life.”

“Ari and Jordan and all other BCM staff.”

Streetworkz Students

“Waking up, soccer, BCM, God.”

“Streetworkz, friends, clothes, art.”

“Time, life, health, music.”

Parents

“Estoy Agradecida infintamente por la familia que Dios me dio que son todo para mi, mis hijos y esposo. Gracias por tan marovillosa la vida.”

“All that you [BCM] do; your family to my family. You all have big hearts, we love you and are very thankful for you!”

“Soy, una madre que les agradece tanto a dosos y cada uno del personal de BCM, por la ayuda que le had dado a mis hijos bendiciones. Gracias por todo su apoyo.”

Volunteers

“I’m thankful for God leading me to serve in BCM’s KidSmart program where I’ve been enjoying the laughter and learning progress of our young students.”

“I’m thankful for God’s overall provision for my family financially and overall good health and safety in the past year, specifically amid a recent traffic accident which left my wife and I unharmed.”

“At BCM I am thankful for Ms. Diana who is takes care of the interns, tutors, students, and curriculum. But more importantly for the families who realize the value of education and take the time and effort to come to KidSmart.” 

Staff

“God’s grace, patience and love.”

“I’m thankful for the community of volunteers and opportunities”

“To serve alongside great believers and to see God’s hand move in and around us.”

Board Members

“Having a personal relationship with Christ.”

“My education and freedom to keep growing and learning.”

“Meeting the [BCM] kids, hearing their stories and seeing their dreams come true.”

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Bible Club

Students write down what they are thankful for and and put the notes in their “Thankful Jars” during Thanksgiving themed Bible Club.

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Streetworkz

Students create a Thanksgiving wreath made of clothes pins adorned with what they are thankful for during Streetworkz their Thanksgiving themed program.

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Staff Prayer

During staff prayer, we too a moment to reflect and write down what we are thankful for. This is one of the notes.

Our Keynote Speaker

Tough. It was definitely tough. During middle school I had my first two falls and then surgeries and casts and prosthesis. When I was younger, I developed osteo and psoriatic arthritis. Me being a girl, it wasn’t easy. Having people at home waiting hand and foot on you – it sounds amazing, but it wasn’t. At one point I had a full body cast and I couldn’t go to the restroom without assistance.   

 I fell behind quite a bit at school and eventually when I was able to go back I realized how mean kids were. They let me have it – calling me cripple and other names. One day another kid threw one of my crutches up on the school roof and I had to wait for the custodian to come and bring it down; something was always happening to me. I pulled through and was able to graduate from middle school, but even that was hard. I was super nervous walking down the aisle during graduation because I was already self-conscious about my way of walking and then knowing that all eyes were going to be on me was even more nerve-wracking, but I did it.   

 My mom is the one who made me start coming to Bible Club during that time. At first, I’d say to my Mom, “Mom, you know you don’t have time.”  And she would respond “Oh, don’t worry, I don’t have to worry about taking you because they’ll come pick you up.” Really?! There’s no way around it? I had no way out. 

 The Bible Club leaders would pick me up and we would work on homework, play games, learn about God and pray. We would read parables and Bible stories and I remember thinking, “This isn’t as boring as church – why doesn’t my mom just bring me here instead?” I started liking it and I’d say, “Mom, it’s Thursday, am I going over there [to BCM] again?  Because Maria [my friend] is going to go, so I should go; I need to go.” Bible Club was a safe place. It was welcoming, nobody was judging me or being mean to me because of my physical appearance. At Bible Club I wasn’t defined by my crutches and surgeries.   

 Bible Club was also very different from my experience with God growing up. Church seemed scary to me. It was somber, and I was hearing things like “If you don’t listen to what they’re saying, [insert scary scenario here] is going to happen...” At Bible Club I learned about Jesus and about love and not just repentance. I also got to see another style of worship and other ways to experience God. One of my Bible Club leaders, SueAnn, used to pick me up in her little yellow buggy. I was always used to sitting in the back of church, not getting noticed. But no, [at BCM] they made us sit in the front. Next thing I know, I’m jammin’ and dancin’ and having fun. 

 BCM kept me off the streets and away from negative influences. Instead, I learned how to cook different foods like homemade marinara sauce and to explore new flavors like Vietnamese rice paper rolls. I also got to go places like Santa Cruz, Muir Woods, Raging Waters and camp. Bible Club was a special place to me because of the new experiences, the positive adults, the sense of safety and belonging and the chance to learn about God in a new way. 

 My daughter Janelle has trouble with reading and retaining information and has a learning disability. Before BCM, she was constantly having trouble even focusing. I would tell her, “Janelle, whatever homework you get should all be a recap of what you did during the day at school. It should be familiar territory.” But she would just get frustrated. She was in another after school program and they still weren’t helping her. I would drop her off at school at 8 and pick her up at 6, 6:30pm. That’s a very long day for a child and then to go home and still have to grill her about homework. I pulled her out, because there was no use in her staying at school that late and still not getting her work done. I messaged one of my cousins and asked if she knew of any programs for Janelle that I could afford with my one income. I didn’t want to pay a lot of money and I needed something flexible. Then she said, “How about Bayshore Christian Ministries?” Why does that sound familiar? Holy cow!  BCM!  I used to go there!!!  Almost 20 years ago I was part of the original crew. 

 So, I came and checked BCM out; I was very nervous about Janelle but she liked it. Academically she started doing better. The staff were always encouraging and positive. I realized that Janelle didn’t have the same behavior issues at BCM that she was having at school.   

 At the end of the school year, I would ask her, “Do you want to go back to BCM” and she would say yes. And then she started going to Bible Club on Wednesday and now she also goes to robotics. My daughter enjoys being at BCM. During the summer she went to Vacation Bible School (VBS) and loved it. She would come home talking about God and what she learned that day. I want Janelle to have the same opportunities through BCM that they gave me so many years ago.     

 God and faith are intimidating subjects to me and Janelle would ask me questions that I didn’t know how to answer. I like having Janelle involved in Bible Club because her leaders can answer questions that I don’t know how to answer. I’ve noticed that Janelle even talks to her little brother about God. My son Josh is very intrigued and wants to know when he can come to BCM, too.   

 Last year started out like an ordinary year, but then I went through a really intense time of loss. In less than two months during the spring of 2017, I lost 4 close family members. My life as I knew it changed completely. I never imagined becoming the head of my household the way that I did. That was tough, and it still is. I’m still working through the grief and anger. I know that God exists, but I have questioned my faith because of the hard times that I’ve faced. With Janelle being part of BCM, that helped me feel more at ease and reminded me that God exists and there is still good. That without loss, we wouldn’t be the humans we are intended to be.   

I am grateful for BCM because it gave me a life outside of school and my house. I was able to have friends who shared my background in a place where I wasn’t judged. I was able to have experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I learned other ways to praise God. As a parent, I appreciate that BCM feels familiar, like a home. I like showing up to BCM and feeling known. People say, “Hi Evie, what’s up.”  instead of just “Janelle, your mom’s here.” 

I am thankful to God for bringing BCM into my life and that this has been a home for both me and my daughter, a place where we are known by name and loved. 

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Keynote Speaker

Here, Evie gives her keynote address at our annual banquet.

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Back Then

Pictured here is Evie and a few other BCM students back when Evie was a BCM student.

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Pose!

Here, Janelle (Evie’s daughter) poses for a photos with two of her friends during VBS this past summer.

Farewell

Holly and Cassie, two of our amazing staff members and BCM champions, will be transitioning in the upcoming month. Although we are grateful for the time they shared with us, and excited to see where God’s path leads them, they will be deeply missed. Here is their farewell.


It is with sadness that I announce that my last day as a full-time staff member at BCM will be November 2nd. I'll continue in a part-time role through December. My next challenge will be working at the Stanford University School of Medicine in the Center for Continuing Medical Education as an Administrative Associate.

Leaving BCM after five years was a very difficult decision that I prayed over and considered for months, because I am still invested in and dedicated to its worthy mission to serve the youth of East Palo Alto. I intend to stay connected as a donor, occasional volunteer, and local supporter. I am committed to making my departure as smooth and graceful as possible because of my deep love for this organization.

I believe strongly in BCM's good work in East Palo Alto and find myself preparing to leave with reluctance and sadness, but also with many truly special memories of time well spent with our wonderful students, volunteers, staff, and Board. I treasure my five years of work at BCM and thank the staff for their faithful service. I learned a great deal during my time working here and grew as a person and follower of Christ. I pray with confidence that God will bless BCM with everything it needs to continue the good work here in our community.

--Holly


There are moments that come throughout life that seem minimal at the time but twenty years down the road they’ll serve as a monumental reminder that God is faithful.  One such moment happened on a Thursday evening in our home.  In late August both my husband and I felt like we heard God tell us to prepare for transition.  We didn’t know what that would look like or when it would happen, but that we were to posture ourselves for transition.  Thirty-six hours later I was having breakfast with a friend that I used to work with.  She felt God had been telling her to ask me to consider a position at a church that I had worked at for 10 years.  One week later, another church asked if I would consider a position with them.  At that point it became clear that the transition would be mine; I would be the one who would be making a change. 

At the end of the month I will resign as Director of Ministries to become Community Life Pastor at Valley Christian Center in Dublin.  It is truly a bittersweet feeling to leave BCM.  Though I know I have to be obedient to the direction that God is leading, I will miss the beautiful ministry that happens here at BCM.  The past three years have been filled with relationships that I cherish, memories that I’ll carry for years, and a few hard days with students sprinkled in between.  Each of those hard days helped our staff become closer and was useful to deepen relationships with the students we served.  I leave BCM with a full heart, trusting that just as God is leading me to a new place of ministry, He has been preparing another individual to step in to BCM.  I am grateful for the years of friendship with students, families, staff, volunteers, partner organizations, and faithful donors. 

                                                                                                                                               --Cassie


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Taste Test!

In this photo taken in 2016, Cassie, Rolando, and Alyssa, one of our former staff, try yogurt parfaits made by our CREATE students during their Science of Cooking class.

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Pose!

In this photo taken in 2015 Holly poses for a picture with four of our students.

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Ice Cream!

In this photo Cassie and CREATE Academy students are in the process of making hand made ice cream.

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Year End Fun

Here Holly strikes a pose during our 2014 year end celebration.

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Group Picture!

Here Cassie along with program staff and Hope University students take a group photo.

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Compassion Weekend

Here Holly heads up registration during Compassion Weekend.

 

Bible Club Changes

“We have 12 students who attend our on-site Bible Club, four of which were introduced to us over the summer through VBS” said our Bible Club manager. With the new strategic priorities in place and our Bible club structure being revamped, we excitedly jumped into the swing of things. “In our previous curriculum we simply told the bible stories and didn’t have the students look it up in the bible,” recounted our Bible Club manager. Now, our 3rd through 5th grade Bible Club students have all received a bible and a journal.

When the students first found out that they would be receiving Bibles they excitedly reminded our Bible Club manager at every opportunity until they got them. “The students are excited about their bibles and journal; they bring them every week!” our Bible Club manager said enthusiastically. The journals contain Bible passages for the students to look up in their bibles, read and take notes on. Naturally, each student looks forward to the bible coins they can earn by 1) bringing their journal to Bible Club 2) completing the weekly lessons and 3) memorizing the weekly verse.

“God is coming back to our house; he is coming back to earth,” one of our Bible Club students wrote in her journal. “It is fun to read what they write and see how they understand the Bible,” said our Bible Club manager as she explained her students enthusiasm and engagement, in fact, one of her students, who usually needs encouragement to pay attention during Bible Club, seem to be more attentive to the lessons than ever. “Can I get extra bible coins if I read extra passages?” asked the student, and when he was told yes, he actually followed through and read the extra passages. “Even if he is doing it for the extra coins it’s great; because wonder if he never reads these passages otherwise?” said our Bible Club manager, “I would rather him read it.”

We are grateful to see our students embrace the positive changes to our Bible Club, and look forward to continue facilitating their walk with the Lord.

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Notes

Students take notes during the lesson.

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Handouts

Students eagerly wait to be given their handout.

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Snack Time!

At the end of the lesson students line up to get a snack in exchange for explaining what they learned.

Our Track Star (Student Spotlight)

“My favorite part about track is running the 400’s and running relays with my team,” said Polonia, one of our KidSmart students, as she discussed her experience being a track athlete. Polonia first joined her track team in the 2nd grade and is now in 4th grade. “First we run 4 laps, after that we stretch and warm up our legs, then we jump over blocks,” said Polonia as she recounted what a regular day of practice looks like. When asked about if she had run at any meets, Polonia said, “We’ve been to the Junior Olympics and several other meets. When we went to the Junior Olympics, we had three different events each; it was fun. When it is my time to race I am nervous, but afterward I feel happy; all of our coaches come up to us after our events and say good job!” When we discussed if she had ever placed at any of the meets she competed in Polonia said “I’ve placed 1st in the 400, 100, 4 X 100 and 4 X 400. For Long Jump I’ve placed 5th and for High Jump I’ve placed 3rd.”

“Right now, track is off season so I’m playing tennis,” said Polonia, “I’ve been playing for five years.” Polonia was first introduced to tennis by her aunt, who is an avid tennis player and is the head of the team Polonia is on. As she discussed what she enjoyed about tennis, Polonia said “My favorite swing is non-dominant, forehand and backhand.” Polonia went on to discuss also playing soccer and basketball. Although she is on the basketball team, she is not allowed to play competitively until 6th grade, and Polonia stated that she is looking forward to that day. When we discussed what position in soccer she enjoyed playing the most, Polonia said “I like being the goalie; when someone tries to shoot, I block it,” she added with a confident smile on her face. At the closing of our conversation, Polonia discussed the love of sports throughout her family and how her older brothers and sisters have played multiple sports. When asked how she felt about being so physically active Polonia said “I like playing four sports; my favorite is tennis, then basketball, track and soccer.”

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Young Polonia

Here is a photo of Polonia from a few year ago in KidSmart class.

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Recess

In a recent photo Polonia releases some energy as she sprints around the lot during recess.