It was 8:30 a.m. on a warm July morning when I pulled up in a Grace Community Church bus to transport a group of Kids Club students to a week-long summer reading camp in Old Town Alexandria. The 25 students accompanied by eight InterVarsity summer interns were dropped off at Downtown Baptist Church which provided space, curriculum, instructors, supplies and lunch for a half-day reading camp to prevent summer reading regression and instill a love for reading. I then headed to Fairlington Presbyterian Church to work from the Casa Chiri in-kind office space until it was time to return and pick up the students. The children loved reading camp and they laughed and giggled on our return to Chirilagua as they counted up the number of drivers, passengers and pedestrians who would oblige them in the wave game by actually waving back.
We arrived to the drop-off point and I noticed Marco as he was disembarking the bus. “Hey Marco!” He stopped and turned. “Please tell your mom thank you for the coconut water she gave me when I saw you guys on my walk last night. I was thirsty and I was really glad I had something to drink.”
He smiled from ear to ear and responded, “Did you see her? My mom? We passed her at her job on the way here. She was the one with purple sleeves.”
I told him that I didn’t see her but that I know she works very hard to provide for him and his siblings.
“Yeah, she works really hard and they don’t pay her much,” he answered back. “My birthday is coming up and she is going to get me a cake and a present.”
“She loves you very much, Marco. She loves you very much,” I responded.
In that moment I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for coconut water, for the act of sacrificial generosity it represents and for the smile on Marco’s face. I was thankful for the richness of the life I get to live every day when each volunteer, each parent, each partner, each student contributes his or her unique part of the beautifully woven communal tapestry. I was thankful for interns who give their time and their summer, Grace Community Church who gives their bus, Downtown Baptist who gives their time, space, and treasure and Fairlington Presbyterian who gives office space. All of this is given in order to love moms like Marco’s by investing in their children all of whom God loves more than we can imagine.
With a new strategic direction in place, we are more excited than ever to work alongside the community as we fire up our old programs with a new twist and launch new pilot leadership development and family strengthening program components. Casa is bolstering and expanding its work over the coming year and it will only be possible with all hands on deck. We are estimating we will need 130 weekly volunteers and 100 monthly/one-time volunteers over the course of the next year in order to make all of our programming happen. Like the reading program, this can only happen with the help of partners and volunteers.
Please be on the lookout for our upcoming announcement listing our strategic direction, as well as our programming and volunteer needs for the coming school year. We invite you to join the Casa family and enter into the blessing of giving what you have to give.
Some people have time. Some people wave. Some churches have space and some have buses. Some people have treasure. And some of us have coconut water.
… all of which, when given, can be a blessing.
With Excitement and a Grateful Heart,