Announcing a Dream Alive
In the midst of the huge adjustments we all have made because of COVID 19 and the surrounding social upheavals … we still dream. I want to share with you one of these dreams. God has been building our vision for the potential of our Sueños Youth Center for a few years now, and much has happened already. But we are letting you know that there is beautiful growth on the horizon. Saying this during the pandemic just makes me smile.To remind you briefly about the power and role of this vision, can I share with you what we have been dreaming about for a while now: A drop-in Youth Center can change lives … in its emphasis on holistic development, a safe place to be known and congregate and access to resources which may be difficult or limited at home or community. It is a gathering place for the future change agents of our world, the raising the next generation of leaders. It is a place where our youth can come all week long and find a safe place to be invested in, loved and known. It is a place of creativity, where our youth can have access to classes, mentors and instruction that advance their development. It’s a beautiful vision. Thankfully, some generous friends have caught sight of it, too. They know what kind of lasting impact this will have on our community. To help make it happen, they’ve agreed to match every gift towards making it a reality – up to $50,000! This will be a place where our youth find Jesus, grow their faith and recognize the power of The Beloved Community. It is a place where young people know what it means to take ahold of their identity as uniquely created for becoming change agents in our community. It is a place of healing, a place of hope, a place for community, a place of belonging. Will you help make it happen by doubling your gift today? I’ve got one more piece of good news to share with you. You’ll agree: a dream stays a dream without the right person to direct it.
Announcing Tania Lopez
This is my good news! We have hired the RIGHT PERSON. It took awhile to find her, funny, she was under our noses all the time, working as second in command inside our workforce development program. We hired Tania Lopez as the new Director of The Sueños Youth Center.
Let me tell you a little bit about her:
1.) We were looking for a person who has been shaped by their life experiences to give them God’s desire for the least, last, and lost in an urban context and who has the cultural competency to engage with our youth and their families.Tania was born in Mexico, in a small ranchito and was raised by her grandma (abuela). This is what she says about being intimately acquainted with our youth: “I’ve seen and I know personally the “baggage”, the tough stuff of life that our youth contend with. In addition to unjust immigration laws, many of the youth are struggling with low self-esteem, drug use, financial pressure, and finding their purpose. COVID-19 has exacerbated feelings of isolation, uncertainty about the future and academic success.”
2.) We were looking for someone ready for multiple layers of management. The programs for youth and college age students include … Wednesday nights, internships, and intensive summer programming. Developing systems to run the Center, so that it operates all week long, with many offerings, classes, the Tech lab, the Art courses, working with Fonzi on leadership development, with Manuela on workforce opportunities. Recruiting, training and managing volunteers and managing our NM partners that are particular to the Youth Center, i.e. Free Arts of AZ, the Woodshop team, ASU, and a hopeful grant for drug prevention.
We have watched Tania on the job here at Neighborhood. She blows us away with her capacity to manage programs, juggle lots of tasks at once and re-imagine the situation and breath vision into systems. She says this: “In order to accomplish the goals set for the Neighborhood Ministries drop-in Youth Center, we must leverage community partnerships that can facilitate programing, provide resources, and connect youth to leadership and employment opportunities. The voice of the community youth should be a part of the conversation involving program development and implementation. Center alumni should be asked to continue to support the mission by taking on leaderships roles, mentoring, tutoring, advocacy, and financial support whenever possible. The Center team should work closely with the church team to develop a holistic curriculum that addresses the spiritual and secular needs of the community youth. Lastly, the Center Director should work closely with the Development department to look for grant opportunities that further the mission of the Center. “ Wow! Perfect answer.
3.) We were looking for someone who has a pastor’s heart, realizing that the youth they will spend time with have all sorts of challenges that teen-agers have in our complicated urban environment. This person will be working hand and glove with our church team. Someone who sees our youth as the future of our city, Arizona and our nation. Leadership development is critical to the success of the Sueños Youth Center. Tania says, this … about the Youth Center under her leadership:
“The youth served by the Center are in a crucial period of their development so it’s important that programs:”
• Respect them as individuals
• Create opportunities for new relationships with peers and mentors• Nourish existing relationships
• Allow self-reflection and spirituality
• Promote healthy life choices
• Allow for problem solving
• Create positive risks
• Celebrates them
Thank the Lord with us for this good news. Can’t wait to see what the future will look like at The Sueños Youth Center under the leadership of Tania Lopez.
Would you help this vision become a reality? Your gift of $25 today gets us there twice as fast as $50, your $100 doubles to $200, your $500 turns into a $1000 investment in our youth, by making this vision of healing and hope possible.
Thank you and God bless!
P.S. Help us make this dream a reality. Invest in the lives of the children in our community. Better yet, have that investment doubled instantly through the matching gift! Seeing young lives transformed, our future changed – I can think of no better investment to make!
P.P.S. Don’t forget that every gift to Neighborhood Ministries qualifies for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. You can claim up to $400 if you file singly or up to $800 if you file married as a credit against what you owe the state in taxes. Changing student’s lives, doubling your gift AND getting a dollar-for-dollar credit? That’s a win-win-win!