Features

Where are they now?

"Where are they now?" Continued...

Issue: "Your right to vote," July 31, 2010

Bill Stanczykiewicz (WORLD, Aug. 5, 2000) ran the Front Porch Alliance, which helped Indianapolis church and community groups to cut through governmental red tape. Now he is the president and CEO of Indiana Youth Institute, a secular organization that supports grassroots youth organizations and the 7,000 youth-serving professionals within them.

IYI publishes statistics on child well-being, has a state-wide radio show and a newspaper column, provides online career planning services, and runs the Indiana Mentoring Program, which provides mentors for any student in Indiana who wants one, as a stepping stone toward academic achievement. Some 20 percent of the organizations IYI supports are faith-based. IYI has received local and federal support and also manages state contracts to help at-risk youth and encourage responsible fatherhood.

Tim Streett (WORLD, Dec. 18, 1999) opened JIREH Sports in 1998 with an emphasis on gymnastics, classical wresting (not the WWF variety), and character development. The plan is still the same: Use non-­conventional sports to challenge stereotypes in black communities, and help parents who see their children largely as future Michael Jordans to come to grips with their own expectations. Since then, JIREH has added taekwondo, boxing, jump rope, and dance to the program, which serves 175 children each week, and still has the classic wrestling segment, which a dozen Christian coaches and former wrestlers run on a volunteer basis.

JIREH Sports now has two buildings and 24 acres of land that Streett plans to develop, but the organization itself in 2008 merged with Jay Height's Shepherd Community. Streett is now assistant director at Shepherd, and he hopes through that ministry to provide more services to children's families. Streett and others run "Shepherd U," which has 6-week courses called Poverty 101 and City 101 that are designed to help volunteers and staffers understand the nature of urban poverty.

Jay Height (WORLD, Aug. 5, 2000) still heads up the Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis: After merging with four other ministries Shepherd has a staff of 60, a budget of almost $4 million, and a reputation for trying to meet physical needs for food and clothing, while emphasizing spiritual and educational needs. Shepherd annually serves 5,000 people with childcare, after-school programs for elementary and middle-school students, college prep programs for high-school students, summer camps, job skills training, and family counseling.

Height says that heightened drug use and higher unemployment are creating overwhelming needs. The privately funded group hit some rough financial spots in 2008 and 2009 but has lately seen improvement.

Curt Williams (WORLD, Jan. 30, 1999, and Nov. 11, 2000) still runs Youth-Reach, a program with beds for 18 troubled kids in Houston and now 18 more in Alabama. The emphasis is still the same: inner transformation through a relationship with Christ buttressed by discipline and accountability. The program is still financially challenged but it's becoming more ecologically self-sufficient: Youth-Reach just received a grant to build a greenhouse.

Williams himself now has seven children, ages 3 to 16. The philosophy announced in a newsletter a decade ago remains the same: "We are unapologetically a Christ-based program. . . . For a child to have new clothes and keep an old heart is an example of misdirected energies."

Fred Myers (WORLD, Aug. 14, 1999) was 73 in 2003, the year he retired from the organization he had started two decades before, Rebuild Resources. Rebuild, located in St. Paul, Minn., is still going strong as a workplace and home for people recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction.

Myers' retirement did not last long. He is now president of Sober Corps, a volunteer organization incorporated in 2007 to serve individuals unable to get jobs due to felonies or incarceration on their records. Through one-to-one mentoring Sober Corps aims to help those who have repeatedly relapsed. Mentors operate out of a downtown church and agree to serve at least eight months. Myers remains convinced that people seeking sobriety need a strong support system based on individualized counseling.
-with reporting by Tiffany Owens

Summer Sunshine

By Marvin Olasky & with reporting by Brittany McComb

Handout

Jim and Carol Clarkson are still the directors of Sunshine Ministries in St. Louis (WORLD, Feb. 9, 2002). Sunshine's primary work a decade ago, in a run-down area, was with homeless men and women. That's still an important focus-but the Clarksons saw the need to start earlier. They now have new teen and youth/family buildings, and a major activity this summer is a camp at Eagle Lodge, located an hour from the inner city.

The camp has three 3-week sessions, each for 20 campers from poor families who ride a bus there every morning and enter the lodge sniffing for the sweet smells they've come to expect: Carol Clarkson bakes before the kids arrive so that the smell of cinnamon rolls or something similar will greet them. She also takes lots of photos and prints out the pictures every day so that campers can put together scrapbooks that in hard times will remind them of their Eagle Lodge experiences.

Each camper has a big buddy, a student at least 16 years old. One 7-year-old late in June, asked what she had learned in camp, said that she had jumped into the pool worried that her big buddy wouldn't catch her--but big buddy Erika did.

Many of the kids don't have much experience with trust. Nor are some of them familiar with sitting down to a well-prepared lunch (one day: hot dogs, baked beans, watermelon, grapes) or praying before they eat. "We really have good meals," Clarkson says: "I make my own macaroni and cheese from scratch. . . . We always have fruit or salad. . . . They eat like you wouldn't believe. . . . My specialty is brownies. . . . I always serve them hot out of the oven so they're real gooey."

Clarkson said that many of the campers come from "this environment where there is crime and there are horrible things going on around them and they are supposed to accept those things . . . and go on with your life. So, they don't even learn some emotions as kids."

Big buddies tell the campers Bible stories: One girl in her fifth year at camp talked about her favorite Bible story--how Adam and Eve "got made by God." And big buddies play with their campers in the swimming pool, a new experience for many who, as Clarkson explains, had never before been in a pool: "It's a really good one-on-one time with their big buddies because they play together and they do silly things out there. It's just a moment in their lives when they can totally block out anything else and just have innocent fun."

The camp at Eagle Lodge originated in a loss of innocence and life-the rape and murder of a mom and daughter. The daughter had been a participant in the after-school program, and the "so what else is new?" lack of emotion in the teens, when they heard the sad news, was something that Clarkson couldn't forget.

Two weeks later she read in the book of Isaiah the prophet's proclamation that even youths will grow tired and weary-but hope comes from waiting on the Lord and then, as chapter 40 of Isaiah relates, soaring on wings like eagles. The Clarksons began looking for property outside the city on which they could locate a camp that could fight such weariness of soul.

When they checked out one house, they saw eagle figurines above a sink, pictures of eagles in the wrought iron on the backs of benches, an eagle weather vane on the top of the barn, eagle etchings here and there. That property is now Eagle Lodge.

Carol Clarkson lives there from Monday through Friday during the summer. (Husband Jim, who runs the program for the homeless, comes on Wednesday and returns to inner-city St. Louis on Thursday morning.) It all requires planning. She quickly learned that she could not depend on parents to send kids with their swimsuits every day, so she emphasizes having parents send the kids with their suits the first day: Clarkson keeps them at the end of each day, dries them, folds them, and puts them back in their rooms every night.

On Friday night she washes everything before she goes home. She says she cleans the bathrooms quickly, puts the first load in the dryer, and then goes to her room, puts her feet up, and enjoys an ice cream bar. Vanilla with dark chocolate: "That's my drug of choice."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading