students and leaders building relationships

Aug 11, 2016

As leaders, if we are honest with ourselves, we sometimes doubt our effectiveness or the impact we are making. Over the summer, four Casa Bible study leaders have been meeting twice a week with Middle School and High School girls to discuss healthy relationships. After a few sessions, the leaders gathered after a session and expressed concern about the quietness of the group. How can we improve? How can we make the class more engaging? Are we being effective? Are the girls understanding the content? How can we get them to share? These were all questions bouncing through our heads.


After this conversation, I decided to have a one on one conversation with one of the 9th grade students who is participating in the class. If anyone could give us meaningful feedback to help us be more effective, it was her. So I asked her, how are the classes going? How can we improve? How can we encourage the girls to open up even more? She had some great ideas, which we implemented during the following class and they were very effective. However, in the midst of the feedback she gave me, she stopped mid-sentence, looked me in the eye and questioned, “Are you asking me this because you think you aren’t doing a good job? It that is why you are asking? Because if it is, I want you to know that it isn’t true. We are quiet because we are thinking about what you are saying and what that means in our own lives and relationships. You and the other leaders are doing a good job and I want you to know that.”

I was taken aback. She called me out in a very loving and encouraging way. I was leaning into my own doubts and fears and she squashed them with one simple word of encouragement. I am reminded once again that through these reciprocal relationships we are “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves.” I am grateful to this young lady for speaking truth and encouragement into my life and reminding me to be gracious to myself.

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.