When Joshua and I decided to move to Wichita to be close to his extended family we figured that we'd probably get involved in their church, Church of the Savior (we have), but I had no clue how involved we might become in Legacy Ministries. Church of the Savior started a branch of Legacy in Wichita about 10 years ago and now most of the people that I'm closest to here are deeply involved in Legacy. The purpose of this ministry is to share the love of Jesus with at-risk youth through creativity and community. They do this through summer camps, where kids can learn to bake, paint, sing or act, as well as through a few different programs throughout the year, like GardenWorks, Legacy Stars After School Program, and the Salvation Army Outreach.
Since we live across the street from the Legacy House it's been natural for us to start doing Legacy stuff. The Legacy House is where a couple of the staff members live (Kenzi and Cora), where a lot of the programs run, and where many a meeting happen. According to Meme, Dan and Lauren, who’ve told me the most about Legacy, I can tell that Church of the Savior is very committed to Legacy and they’ve maintained connections with a lot of the Legacy campers over the years. I seem to learn more and more each week about the history of Legacy and the people they’ve reached.
I’ve participated a bit in all the year long programs, so I’ll tell you a little about what I know and my experience. (Just to keep in mind, I may not be exactly correct about all the particulars of the projects or this ministry, but I wanted to share some of the details that I do know and the relationships that I’ve made by being a part of Legacy.)
GardenWorks is an urban garden project that employes at-risk youth or teens that might not be able to get a job elsewhere. They work together to plant seeds, tend the crops, and share their produce with the community at weekly farm stands. This summer they had the farm stand on Monday nights and asked costumers to take some produce or homemade pesto and leave a donation if they could. I love garden produce and gardening, so I was delighted to eat the veggies and occasionally help tend the garden or make pesto. Currently we still have a bunch of tomatoes and squash from the garden. Yum! The GardenWorks crew will continue to work in the garden this fall by adding manure, decorating the fence around the garden, planting seeds and possibly hosting a fall food stand to serve soup and bread to neighbors.
Legacy Stars, the after school program, is a fun, laid-back Monday afternoon hang-out time. Neighborhood kids are welcome to come to Legacy House to make art, bake muffins or read stories. One day we all made little “mailboxes,” really just envelopes made from National Geographic pages, so we could leave each other notes throughout the week. Sometimes kids are content to hang out, talk or get help with their homework. Other days they want to make or bake something. I like the natural spontaneity within the group. I started going to Legacy Stars regularly before I got a job, so once kids learned that I lived across the street they started coming over sometimes to visit me, as well as Lauren, Daniel and Josh. One neighborhood girl has been coming over quite a lot and I’m often amazed that an elementary school kid would want to hang out so often with some newly married 20-somethings. She loves to help us cook and bake, and will often take time to lay in the hammock with me or show us her songs and dances from school. I love getting connected to the people in our neighborhood and Legacy Stars has been a catalyst for that.
While I really want to be regularly involved in GardenWorks and Legacy Stars, the timing makes it too hard now that I work full time. But, on Sunday nights a group from Church of the Savior goes over to hang out with the teens living at the Salvation Army (S.A.) facility, a place for underage drug and alcohol offenders. The guys live at this center, go to high school, and come back to the S.A. facility. They don’t have much freedom or much outside time and I know they get bored in there. These are the same guys that attend the Legacy summer camps and COTS likes to stay connected to them throughout the school year too. I guess the Salvation Army is a Christian program because they guys are required to go to church every Sunday. This year they guys are allowed to go to COTS for church if a S.A. staff person will go with them, which is pretty awesome. To my understanding, Church or the Savior wants to give these guys creative outlets, exposure to the love of Jesus, and a support system they can lean on while they’re in Salvation Army and when they get out. Sunday nights look like this: 10-12 COTS people break up into three groups to lead activities for the three different groups of guys (arranged according to age). Two groups do some sort of art project, game, or cooking activity, usually accompanied by a small time of sharing, prayer or talking about God. The third group is in the gym playing basketball and maybe praying or chatting. I've been to the Salvation Army four times and plan to make this a priority on Sunday nights. Some weeks I'm just not able too, but I think it's good to take a break every now and then. For the sake of not making this post incredibly long, I'll share more about my S.A. experience later. If you have any questions about Legacy Ministries, feel free to ask or check out their website and blog.
All photos are from the Monday night farm stand back in August.