Even though the temperatures outside have plummeted, Redeemer Center is busier than ever: our youth programs are thriving, our housing is at capacity, and Venture North Bike Shop is filled with customers and apprentice mechanics. Here are a few snapshots of life at Redeemer this winter:
In December, Redeemer held its annual Christmas store. 120 kids lined up to purchase gifts for 25 cents each for their friends and families. The day included an open mic featuring the incredible talent of our youth; a bicycle-rinding Santa; dozens of high school elves to help kids shop; and a busy workshop of present-wrapping. Dozens upon dozens of volunteers from Redeemer's partner congregations showed up to experience the infectious joy of children who find just the right gift for a loved one. E.J, one of our after school program kids, embodied that joy and excitement. “Put the perfume in that pink bag because it’s for my mom,” he excitedly told a volunteer who helped him wrap his gifts. “And that football is for my brother, so make sure it’s wrapped in red or blue.” E.J could barely contain himself as he left Redeemer into the winter snow holding his newly purchased gifts.
Venture North is also in the spirit of giving. Within the next 6 months, Venture north will hold a record-breaking 19 Earn-a-Bike classes to distribute 150 free bikes to local kids! Participants spend a 5 hour session learning about bicycle safety and repair. At the end of the session, kids are rewarded for their hard work with a free bike!
The 15 members of the Northside Leadership Project have weathered their first few months at Redeemer splendidly and are already valued members of our community. Joe Davis, our poet-in-residence and youth staff member, moved here from Minot, North Dakota in October. Even though he had never lived away from home before, he jumped right into things at Redeemer, performing at open mics, recruiting kids for our programming, and helping out with the after school program. (Check out the youtube link below to see the commercial for Venture North that he made with the kids!) When asked how he has been impacted by Redeemer, Joe explains, ”I have gained a greater appreciation for diversity and the sharing of different values and perspectives. I've also experienced affirmation about my vocation, propose, and passion, as they all are becoming increasingly one and the same. “
And so in these dark months, Redeemer continues to shine as a beacon of hope to our neighbors. And our neighbors reflect that light back to us as they engage in our expansive community that welcomes all as they are.
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