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Enjoy the complete version of our press release, which you can also find versions of on the following outlets: Patch, Palo Alto Weekly and EPA Today (coming soon).



BAYSHORE CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES RECEIVES CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE CERTIFICATE OF RECOGNITION FOR ITS RENOVATED FIELD OF HOPE


East Palo Alto Councilmember Antonio López

Calls BCM’s Field of Hope an “Oasis” and Example of the City’s Resilience



EAST PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 12, 2021 — Following the unveiling of its Field of Hope, Bayshore Christian Ministries (BCM), a non-profit anchor in the East-of-Bayshore community for 37 years, received a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Senate celebrating its renovated outdoor space. The history of the field’s renovation includes such important names as basketball star Jeremy Lin, David Muffly, now the head arborist for the Apple headquarters in Cupertino, and the Palo Alto non-profit Canopy.

Antonio López, an East Palo Alto Councilmember who attended BCM’s Field of Hope Expo on the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, described the impact this outdoor space will have on the community in a presentation to over 230 guests. “BCM’s Field of Hope is an example of East Palo Alto’s resilience. It’s an oasis,” said Lopez. “The beauty of this outdoor space offers hope and inspiration to the community. As someone who grew up here and has seen the city transform, my heart warms knowing that this space is going to inspire countless students who are coming to these facilities. Here they will be mentored, inspired and empowered.”





Beginnings


BCM has called East Palo Alto home since 1984, and, for 21 of those years, the field next to its headquarters at 1001 Beech St. has been part of its mission to equip east-of-Bayshore youth to grow spiritually, gain life skills and develop as leaders so that they have hope and a future.

“BCM has served as a pillar of the community,” continued López. “For over 30 years, they’ve changed the lives of children who’ve come through their doors, as well as their families, providing a safe refuge for education to those who otherwise might lack it. They’ve invested so much in the future of East Palo Alto.”


In 2000, when BCM opened the doors of its then new facility, the field next to the building had fresh grass and was widely enjoyed by students. When Rolando Zeledon, BCM’s executive director from 2008-2020, joined BCM in 2006, he recalls the green grass. However, a series of setbacks impacted the health of the field.


First, was drought. During the three years from 2007–2009, California experienced the 12th worst drought period in the state's history. It was so bad that for the first time a statewide emergency proclamation was issued. BCM had to conserve water, in solidarity with its neighbors; thus the once green grass began to fade.


Ironically, at the very same time, we were all hit with the Great Recession (December 2007-June 2009). Things got very tight financially at BCM as they did most everywhere. Up until that point, BCM had gardeners keeping the field in reasonably good shape. But, when hard decisions had to be made, the external gardening support was eliminated. Zeledon recalls that the leadership team had to do the best with what they had at the time.


Weekend Volunteer Projects


While 2007-2009 brought many discouragements, encouragement came from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC – renamed Menlo Church in 2015). MPPC encouraged BCM to launch a form of volunteer project that is now a cornerstone of BCM’s connection to local church partners – weekend work projects. Over time, many projects were done both by MPPC and others. Notably, during one of MPPC’s Compassion Weekends, a team of MPPC members renovated the edge of BCM’s property into a citrus orchard with dwarf citrus trees, donating both the trees and their time. This effort was led by David Muffly, a Stanford graduate who had an insatiable desire to plant trees in East Palo Alto and the hills around Stanford. He became so successful as an arborist that he was selected as the head arborist for the Apple headquarters in Cupertino where he was responsible for choosing 9,000 trees to create an urban oasis.


Enter Palo Alto Non-Profit Canopy


In 2018, BCM began sharing space at its headquarters with Oxford Day Academy (ODA), a charter high school, for daytime classes. As part of the agreement, ODA hoped that its project-based approach to learning might offer unique opportunities for high school students to partner with BCM. That came to fruition as the vision for the renovation of the Field of Hope formed.


Through ODA, BCM met Canopy, a Palo Alto non-profit whose mission is to grow an urban tree canopy in Midpeninsula communities for the benefit of all. With the motto “Canopy plants and cares for trees where people need them the most,” BCM’s now time-worn field was the perfect project. It didn’t hurt that BCM already had a Canopy connection through David Muffly’s orchard planting some 10 years earlier.


Canopy responded to BCM’s request for help to revitalize its field by applying for funding from the Kaiser Permanente CAMPOS grant which, at that time, provided resources to engage community in the use of shared public spaces outdoors. Kaiser awarded the grant to Canopy and monies were received in early 2019. This led to collaborative efforts between 1) BCM, 2) ODA students, 3) Canopy and its Teen Urban Foresters (TUFs) high school program, and 4) PlaceWorks -- a planning and urban design firm specializing in community engagement.


Many fine fruits came from this rich collaboration. During Phase I, PlaceWorks trained a team of ODA students who, as part of their high school coursework, lead a design charrette, an intense period of design and planning activity. The students solicited feedback via surveys amongst their school and BCM constituents and presented findings to ODA in May 2019.


Then, a team of Canopy TUFs (some of whom were also ODA students) took over, holding a live dream building and ideation session at BCM’s summer showcase in August 2019. BCM, its students and families, and ODA representative participated in the conversation. The back-and-forth conversation continued until all parties had settled not only on the ideal features that should be included in the Field of Hope, but also the location of each feature.


By early Fall 2019, PlaceWorks had create an agreed-upon conceptual design for the Field of Hope:


“The Field of Hope is a beautiful culmination of vision and action,” said Latrice Bennett, ODA Head of School. “At ODA, we believe in cultivating agency with intentionality, always encouraging students to find ways to make an impact in their community. We thank BCM for respecting their collaboration with our students by seeing this project through to completion; it is essential for our youth to witness their dreams materialize in such purposeful ways.”


Prepping for Trees


Once the Field of Hope design phase was completed, it was time for the work to begin. BCM began to brainstorm with Canopy’s program manager about trees. Selecting trees and greenery that would be planted around the edges of the Field of Hope and in front of BCM’s building was a delightful process.


However, much field preparation work was required before the tree planting could begin. Not only had the field become extremely uneven due to gophers and a lack of greenery, but there were also drainage issues. During this phase, BCM discovered the source of a long-mysterious leak in the irrigation system that was creating large water bills even after sprinklers were turned off. Deep in the center of the field, the leak was finally located and tapped off.


Excellent survey work and field preparation was completed by Girvin Peters Landscape. The field had to be graded, irrigation established, and the walking path installed with metal edging and a rock surface. Girvin’s relationship with Canopy made the project run smoothly and reach completion at a great price point.


Tree Planting Day


Finally, the big day arrived -- Nov. 16, 2019. With the help of over 100 volunteers and Canopy staff and TUFs, 32 trees and 125 plants became part of the Field of Hope. It was a joyous experience to take shovel to dirt and work together to plant large trees, transforming the flat barren space into something that began to look like the Field of Hope. Now it was time to begin installing the envisioned field features.


Jeremy Lin and BCM’s Basketball Court


Basketball superstar, Jeremy Lin, an Asian-American professional basketball player who got his start in Palo Alto, played a major role in the installation of BCM’s basketball half court. Because of its ongoing support of BCM, the Jeremy Lin Foundation was able to fund most of the cost of the court. Foundation staff were present for the ribbon cutting on Saturday, March 20, 2021. And, Jeremy Lin himself, who was playing basketball away from the Bay Area at that time, sent a video to BCM youth to express his support.


“Hopefully you are enjoying the newly renovated court,” said Lin in the video. “To me, the court, sports and basketball are about unifying people. We come together, we do amazing things. We get to play ball, exercise, and enjoy each other’s company. I hope that the court is a source of unification and that you continue to pursue your dreams and enjoy working out and enjoy exercising every day. I will continually be rooting for you guys, BCM youth. Keep doing what you’re doing.”



Only a month later, on April 23, 2021, Lin was able to come to BCM in person to play ball and capture the flag with students and encourage a healthy lifestyle. He shared words of wisdom with the students about how to combat hate with love and even signed basketballs that students took home as a keepsake.


BCM hoped that the Basketball Court Ribbon Cutting ceremony would be an impactful launch for a fundraising effort to complete the field’s renovation. To that end, a video was produced featuring the Jeremy Lin Foundation and the story behind the field. The fundraising effort was a great success! Over $110,000 was raised by the summer of 2021. The field could be completed.


Funds Raised to complete the Field of Hope Renovation


BCM Executive Director, Tiffany Hong, described each component that has since been completed on the Field of Hope. “The basketball court and soccer field will teach Godly lessons of courage and team -- how to persevere and celebrate,” said Hong. “The firepit will give deep, intimate moments of sharing, worship and fellowship. The picnic area will allow families and community to gather to support, love and experience joy. The barbeque area will be where we commune and break bread. And finally, the garden will be the parallel of our lives and hope – as we nurture and care for seedlings, they will grow and become the beautiful creations God intended.”



About Bayshore Christian Ministries


Bayshore Christian Ministries (BCM), a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 1984 and located in East Palo Alto, Calif., equips the youth of East Palo Alto and the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park to grow spiritually, gain life skills and develop as leaders so they have hope and a future. BCM offers after-school, evening, and summer programs, using a relational, wholistic and collaborative approach to empower the next generation of community leaders. Our vision is that our alumni are active in their faith, possess hope, purpose and marketable skills and give back to their communities. To learn more, visit www.Bayshore.org.



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I wanted to do something similar to what my spiritual parents did. Because of my own story of growing up in an immigrant family and a single parent household with financial struggles, I wanted to bring positive impact into someone else’s life.


Peilei came to faith through a friend who brought her to church, where she met the people who would become her spiritual parents. Her experience with her spiritual parents and the ways they loved and cared for her motivated her to look for a place where she could also exemplify God’s love in action.


In 2018, Peilei took an accounting job in the Bay Area and through her church, she heard about BCM’s mentoring program for teens. As a BCM volunteer, Peilei helps foster a safe community for students who are going through difficult life circumstances. She gets to be part of their breakthrough moments as well as everyday life. There are a few students she has developed deeper relationships with, and she has also served as a math tutor, providing academic support.


At times, it has been hard to hear some of the stories of what students have gone through. I see a lot of brokenness. The students experience a lot of difficult things. Sometimes they ask ‘why is this happening to me; why do I have to go through this?’ I don’t have an answer. Life is hard and everyone goes through trials, but what makes Christians different is that we have hope in the Lord, the eternal hope that cannot be taken away by this world, the ultimate redemption through Christ Jesus. Trusting God will fulfill our deepest needs; He is there and will carry us through.

As the students open up, Peilei sees them becoming more aware of how God has shown His grace and brought them fulfillment and support. She sees their willingness to ask for prayer or turn to God in prayer themselves. Through BCM, they have been introduced to a God who knows and loves them intimately.


Peilei saw one student gain confidence and grow tremendously during his time at BCM. When she first met him, he never started a conversation. He would sit along the edge of the table and not talk, trying to avoid conversations. Slowly he became more comfortable and now he shares his thoughts and even asks others how they are doing.


At BCM, God has also been at work in Peilei’s life.

God has taught me to be uncomfortable and helped me to see blind spots. I’ve learned that I often go into a situation with an assumption about culture and there are times I have come across as offensive or said or done dumb things. One time, a student brought to my attention that something I said was offensive. I appreciated her courage in speaking up, it was a big indicator of her growth and it allowed me apologize, learn and grow.

As Peilei looks ahead to a new year of ministry, she shares, “I hope to be more bold in sharing the Gospel. There are a lot of challenges the students face that point to the needs of the soul and knowing a Savior. I want to share about the eternal hope we have in God. I hope that I can serve with wisdom and sensitivity to God’s timing.”


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The CREATE program is often most known for its Robotics component, but it is in fact geared towards introducing students to the entirety of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). Create Academy, a five-week summer program, differentiates itself from other learning programs by its focus on exposing students to the kinds of possibilities and experiences in STEAM careers that they would otherwise not get. Students learn about scientific concepts through fun and creative activities alongside more familiar academic work in the mornings. In addition to STEAM exposure, students also grow in confidence and envision a brighter future for themselves as they are taught and mentored by young leaders from the community.


Waniya Bryant, Create Program Manager, is especially appreciative of the wholistic aspect of Create Academy. The most exciting part of the program, both for Waniya and the kids, is the showcase at the end of the five weeks. During this showcase, students get to display everything they did during the summer, which can include projects and talents as varied as dances and piano pieces.


Waniya has been a long time resident of East Palo Alto, and attended BCM’s programs herself when she was younger. She speaks of the conviction that this kind of experience and legacy has given her (while she keeps an eagle’s eye out for her little niece, who was barreling head first across the parking lot whilst rapidly consuming Cheetos):


“There’s one kid who was in the 5th grade when he started coming to CREATE, and is now going into 8th grade. Recently, an aquatics director at the YMCA (one of our partner organizations) told me about him passing his swim test, and his growth over the years. He was so tiny, and now he is our oldest kid! It’s amazing to watch their growth in many areas, and I’m so glad to share that some of them are now more enthusiastic about STEAM.”


Growing up attending BCM activities is a common experience for other leaders in the CREATE program. Yoyo, an intern with BCM, grew up attending Kidsmart and Streetworkz. She was also a Create Academy student, and found it so fun that she wants to now replicate the experience that she had for the next cohort of kids:


“I had a lot of fun here and I want them to enjoy it, enjoying it to the point that they're sad that it’s over. The teachers make learning really fun and interesting, and they have a different teaching style than at school. They're more creative in how they teach.”

Yoyo’s experience with CREATE motivated her to consider careers involving math, or even teaching: “I was a kid who shied away from math, but I found it useful and did the little quizzes and I remember wanting to keep learning math, and want to try better next time. I also want to come back as a teacher, and I want to create my own way of teaching. I might try out teaching as a career, who knows!”


Two other summer staff with CREATE, Ana and Sofia, lent some of their lunch time to speak about the creative teaching they received when they were participants. They particularly remember the “poop workshop”, which was a class about the digestive system where the kids took full advantage of asking questions about the mystical processes behind poop and pee. Besides these funny moments, they also recall overhearing the kids encouraging one another in their work and to do the right thing, exhibiting values BCM teaches.


As a classroom leader with CREATE, Sofia actually found the skills she learned from another BCM program, LiT, to come in handy:

“BCM helped me with my independence and my self identity, and helped me to step into a leadership role. I’m in charge of watching children and giving them instructions, and I can now put my foot down. I didn't know how to set boundaries before, or even acknowledge the need to set boundaries.”

These four leaders in this summer’s CREATE program are a testament to the value of CREATE—either as participants themselves when they were students, or as staff who are continuing to grow and invest in the next generation of community leaders. .





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