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This big light of mine

"This big light of mine" Continued...

Issue: "Effective Compassion," Sept. 1, 2007

People who show up every week build relationships that bridge the cultural gap, according to Bob Skiles, a member of the center's advisory team: "You forget it's a rich white person dealing with a Hispanic child. It's two people in a relationship. As you get to know each other and form a relationship, those differences are no longer important." Beshore said, "As you just care for them, they open the door. They were so hungry. We had kids who just showed up at the door saying, 'I heard you'll tell me about Jesus.'"

Some of those kids now work at the center. Lola Rodriguez, 20, grew up on Minnie Street. She started coming to the center six years ago and now works in LCC's computer lab: She's thankful for "people who see you going the wrong way and just want to turn you around." When Rodriguez became pregnant with her son, the people at the center were "always there to help me," so now she wants to help others. Rodriguez helps lead Club Mom, a ministry that equips other teenage moms. She wants to return to high school and become a social worker. She now professes faith in Christ. LCC, working to expand the scope of its ministry, is partnering with another organization to found two more community centers in 2008. The goal is to provide more help for pregnant teens, offer immigration services, work on gang prevention, and improve health, nutrition, and school readiness.

Skiles says that when LCC began, kids could not tell him what they wanted to be when they grew up: "The kids didn't have any idea of a future. We're looking at a neighborhood that was guns, gangs, and graffiti, and kids weren't sure they were going to grow up." Now people like Rodriguez have a vision for their lives, and Skiles has noticed that these visions have a common theme: "They want to be teachers. They want to be social workers. They want to be nurses. It's all involved with helping people."

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