Wellspring Revival Ministries

Wellspring Revival Ministries purpose is to create a compassionate community. WRM operates a youth center, Joel's Place, in Fairbanks, AK whose mission is to provide creative, adventurous and adrenalin seeking youth a good, positive outlet for their energy.
Sep 17, 2014

Joel's Place for Dinner

                                                                         6,520

 

In the past twelve months, Joel's Place has served 6,520 meals for free to the youth of our community.  We are members of a couple of USDA programs (the Summer Food Service Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program for those of you who were curious) that will reimburse our organization for after-school meals that we provide to teenagers and young children in high-risk neighborhoods.  This reimbursement allows us to employ our phenomenal kitchen staff, purchase food and cover other cooking expenses.  The meals are hot, nutritious and did I mention free?  Some of the food that we serve fits into what they eat every day: spaghetti, pizza, etc.  However some of the meals push our kids a little bit.  Chicken stir-fry with veggies is delicious...once you are able to get over the fact that you are eating vegetables.  The goal of the program is to both give healthy meals to youth who may not be getting enough to eat at home and to teach positive nutrition habits through trying new foods or familiar foods prepared in different ways.

 

Food is a huge issue among kids in America, especially Alaska.  Many school-age kids are underfed...the meal that they have here at Joel's Place may be the only food they have during the day.  Hungry kids are bad students.  They are unresponsive.  They have horrible social skills.  Hungry kids do not think about the future because they are wrapped up in finding something to eat.  Hungry kids will eat anything...especially if it is quick and easy and cheap.  Hello, Fast Food and Vending Machines.  Childhood obesity is reaching epidemic proportions in our state.  Kids are eating a ton of empty calories and suffering serious health problems as a result.  It is so easy in Alaska to just stay indoors all winter and be sedentary and a lot of youth just get bigger and bigger and bigger as the years go on.

 

Fighting obesity requires 3 things: Healthy Food, Exercise and Mentoring/Education.  Joel's Place provides all three.  Our meals are USDA certified.  The skate park allows year round exercise and training.  Our staff will sell you a candy bar from the front desk, but they will also accompany you into the cafe to have dinner and make sure you clean your plate.  We had several community members teach afternoon courses this summer on healthy eating and nutrition.  In the two years that I have been on this job, there are a handful of boys who I have met who began coming to Joel's Place as roly-poly little guys. They have skated; they have grown; they have eaten well and now they are big, healthy young men.  I am really proud of that and hope I get to see that story played out over and over again.

 

3,520.  That is a really good number.

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Jun 17, 2014

An Epic Summer

     Summer is usually a sad time around Joel's Place.  The kids are off having fun other places, the staff are bored and the bills are piling up.  In spite of the sunlight, summer is usually the darkest time for the youth center in both activity and mood.

     But not this year.

     The transformation began last year as we paved and fenced in our parking lot, allowing us to have a usable (and skateable) outdoor area.  Fairbanks Youth Sports donated funds to purchase some high qualtiy mobile ramps.  Volunteers came by to build ramps or work in our garden or set up our basketball and volleyball courts.  We set aside times for kids to ride their scooters.  This year we received generous contributions from Conoco Phillips and the Fred Meyer Foundation for the express purpose of offering free skating to the youth of our community for the summer.  The awards cover what we would have earned by charging our normal rates for membership and skate lessons; since we are receiving the money from elsewhere, we can offer everything at Joel's Place for no money at all!

     The response to this program has been tremendous.  Meals served have increased by 48% from this time last year.  Our park usage has increased 254% from last year.  Kids play inside, they play outside, they paint things, they play games, they learn job skills and life skills.  We are not only busier than during a normal summer; we are also busier than several of our winter months during the school year. 

     Later on this summer we will be putting on "Joelstock," a 10 hour music festival right here on the grounds as we continue to celebrate summer at Joel's Place.  Our ride team will be touring the state in late July and we will be hosting a booth at the fair in early August before diving into the new school year.

     This is an epic summer we are engaged in.  A summer full of kids and crashes and laughter and new opportunities.  It is the best form of chaos to be surrounded by and we are here because of your generosity and support.  Thank you for your generosity and encouragement as we move forward.

Looking forward to many, many more epic summers,

James

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Mar 18, 2014

Turning the Corner

     March is a funny time in Fairbanks.  We are rapidly gaining sunlight, snow is melting and streets are clearing.  Every year the sunlight and the warm temperatures (rocketing up to the forties!) make people believe that we are having an early spring.  Every year.  Without fail we will have another really cold spell of below zero temperatures and blowing snow.  It happens every year and it always takes people by surprise.  However, even if we are not having an early spring, the weather does indicate that we are out of the throes of winter.  We have turned a corner towards spring and summer.  We are not there yet, but we are now headed in that direction.

 

     Simlarly, Joel's Place is turning a corner.  We have a full Board of Directors for the first time in years and they are utilizing their skills, passions and connections to grow this organization.  We are hiring new staff to create programs to invest in the growth and maturation of our youth while they are having a ton of fun in our park.  We are launching Snowskating at Joel's Place:  A cross between skateboarding and snowboarding, snowskating will set up in our fenced yard area and provide a great outdoor recreation alternative for our athletes.  We have people and organizations from across the community initiating to volunteer or provide food or play music or sponsor youth. 

 

     We are not completely stable yet; we continue to struggle with paying staff and bills on time.  We still need to upgrade our equipment and facilities to create a safer and more fun environment.  We need to build our partnership base throughout the community and we have some major debts on the horizon.  We are not stable yet, but we are on our way.  We have turned a corner and can see the goal in front of us.  It will not be long before our finances are sustainable, our staff is well trained, our building is high quality, and the teenagers who come through here have a blast playing both indoors and outdoors while finding mentors and developing vision and resources for their futures.

 

     We are not there yet, but it is coming soon.  And you are a significant part of turning that corner.  Thank you for your generosity, your support and all the ways that you have invested in the youth of our community.  We are blessed to have you as a partner.

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