Stories

Dawnielle’s Announcement

Dear Casa Chirilagua Family,

 

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21

 

I and the other co-founders of Casa Chirilagua read this passage over and over from our apartment in Chirilagua in 2007. Then we watched God do much more than we could have ever imagined…

 

Since then, we’ve witnessed the building of new relationships, the development of new programs, the establishment of partnerships and the opening of a community center in the heart of the Chirilagua neighborhood. Thanks to your help, Casa is a thriving and fully sustainable non profit organization.

 

From Casa’s inception, one of our long-term goals was to build something that would last, to not only function without its founders but flourish beyond their departure. We believe we have arrived at the completion of this goal. As such, through much prayer and reflection, I have discerned it is my time to pass the baton to the next executive director of Casa Chirilagua and will be stepping down from my position on June 28.

 

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A Teaching Moment

As Kids Club volunteer Ms. Nancy sat down to talk with Eddy, his head was turned away and his arms were crossed. Eddy hadn’t been listening when Kids Club was doing the daily honor code review and each time Ms. Nancy had asked him to focus, he would ignore her and continue to talk with his friends. As other students began homework time, Ms. Nancy began to talk with Eddy about his choices – but he struggled to engage and said he just didn’t care.

 

Ms. Marissa and Eddy went out to the hallway. Kneeling down to be on his eye level, Ms. Marissa asked, “Hey Eddy, what’s the expectation we have of every body during honor code time?”

 

“Well, that everyone is quiet and listening,” he replied.

 

“Were you following that expectation?” she asked.

 

“No…I wasn’t focused,” Eddy said.

 

“When Ms. Nancy talked to you about what happened, why did tell her you didn’t care?” Marissa asked.

 

Eddy looked at her silently and shrugged. Seeing a teaching moment, Marissa reviewed with Eddy the 3 parts of being vulnerable they’d been talking about at Kids Club: owning mistakes and taking responsibilities for actions, being honest about how we feel, and communicating directly and with kindness.

 

“Eddy, is there a way that practicing vulnerability feels hard right now?” Marissa asked. He nodded in response, “If I admit my mistakes, I get a punishment. I don’t know how people are going to react.”

 

Marissa said to Eddy, “Yes, when we admit our mistakes we do have to take responsibility for our actions – there may be a consequence that isn’t fun. But at Kids Club we don’t want to punish you – we want to help you learn and grow. We want you to trust that you are loved and accepted no matter what.”

 

As she looked at Eddy, she began to see a softening in his heart and that he was truly hearing what was being spoken. She looked at him and asked, “Eddy, you know Ms. Nancy well. If you admit your mistake and apologize to her, do you think she’ll reject you and hold a grudge or is she someone who will forgive and welcome you back in?”

 

Immediately he responded, “She will forgive… she’s kind.”

 

Taking a deep breath, he walked into the classroom and practiced vulnerability and courage by admitting his mistake, having a hard conversation, and seeking to reconnect with a volunteer he really cares about. He and Ms. Nancy shared a hug as she reminded him, “Eddy, I care about you because I see how much potential you have. I just want you to be the best you can be.” Eddy smiled and nodded his head, and went to begin his work.

 

This month, Eddy was courageous and practiced vulnerability even when it was hard. It was a big victory for him and it helped build the culture of vulnerability we are seeking at Kids Club. At Kids Club, students, staff and volunteers are learning together that with the foundation of a good relationship, a culture of honor is possible.

 

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Being a Vulnerable Leader

At times building new relationships can take a lot of courage. Especially when a leader chooses to be vulnerable and share personal stories with middle school students who have had a rough day. This has been the case for Mr. Kalin, who has been in this scenario each week since coming on staff in September. He is an assistant Teens Club director in Casa’s Local Leaders program.

 

For months, he found it challenging to reach a room of middle school teens who were still warming up to him as a new person. He knew the challenges of middle school and identified with how the students may be feeling, “Being in middle school was pretty much the worst thing I have had to go through so far! I know what they are going through. I don’t like the unfortunate reality that when I ask them how their day is, they say, ‘Bad. It was bad.’”

 

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You did it! Mentoring Month Success

 

Looking ahead with bright eyes and a smile, first grade student Ricardo patiently sat at the kitchen table waiting for his newest friend to come through the front door. This was no ordinary friend – this was Robert, Ricardo’s new mentor. As his new mentor entered, Ricardo’s smile froze in place as he stared at Robert in awe.

 

Only weeks before, Ricardo eagerly asked Casa’s mentoring director, Mr. Jose, several questions about this exciting new mentor he’d soon meet:

 

“Mr. Jose, what’s his name? What does he look like? Is he tall or short? Does he like to play? What does he like to do?” asked Ricardo, barely scratching the surface of the relationship that would ensue.

 

However, on Match Day, Ricardo was overcome with shyness which hindered him from flooding Robert with questions. Match Day is a special day when long-awaiting students finally meet their mentor. Although every mentorship develops uniquely, one thing remains the same: everyone is excited for Match Day.

 

Ricardo is one of four students matched during National Mentoring Month this past January. Four new relationships are being built among mentors, their mentees and their family members!

 

As one matched student stated, “It’s important for me that my mentor gets to know my family.”

 

Clearly, there is an emphasis on connection from all sides in the mentorship. This grows naturally through time together each week.

 

For Ricardo and Robert, and all our new matches, this is the beginning of a wonderful friendship. Match Day sparks the connection bringing different worlds together. Bridges are built and strengthened as relationships grow – hopefully for many years to come.

 

 

Collage of new mentor/mentee matches with their families

 


 

Learn more about mentoring with Casa Chirilagua here.

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