LIFT: Center for Champions
Earlier this year, we introduced the Local Impact Fund for Transformation (LIFT). This fund is one way that we are celebrating and encouraging the involvement of our congregation as they serve in various local organizations that seek the flourishing of our communities. Since the church is essentially the people of God, wherever individuals go and serve, there goes the church. As our Hershey Free folks serve in the community, they carry the gospel and light of Christ with them. LIFT allows us to celebrate that and to encourage our congregation and the organizations that they support. One recently awarded LIFT grant was requested by Alicia Krauter for Center for Champions, where she volunteers with youth mentoring.
Everyone needs someone in their corner; and many kids don’t have a “someone” cheering for them, listening to them, and loving them through some of their toughest years. Being a mentor with Center for Champions means I get to be that person in my little friend’s life! I get to do life with them, go on adventures, introduce them to new things and ideas, and most importantly just be there as a faithful friend and listening ear!
I heard about Center for Champions after volunteering on a team during Hershey Free’s Beyond the Walls service day. I loved the ministry and the heart the leaders had to reach underprivileged kids in a very personal way.
That January, I became a mentor and was matched with a spunky, funny, and creative 11-year-old. This January we are going on two years of friendship! We couldn’t be more different. It’s been a bumpy, mistake-filled, big-learning-curve two years—and yet looking back, it’s been beautiful seeing how all our differences are what God has used to make our relationship and each other stronger and more compassionate toward each other and those who are different from us. God put us together for a reason, and even the similar loss and trauma we’ve both been through has helped build trust and openness in a relationship that outwardly seems to make little sense. I’ve carried her through 5Ks, convinced her to hike mountains, eaten countless Chick-fil-A meals, made slime more times than I can count, and made numerous messes in the kitchen. But the most important parts are the in-between moments. Learning her favorite Bible verse and what that means to her; listening to her talk and cry through feeling lonely, depressed, and abandoned by friends; encouraging her in loving those around her that annoy her instead of beating them up; praying with her.
I love Center for Champions because it’s simply about building relationships and living life alongside a child who might otherwise feel alone. I believe that with a little time, care, and persistence, we can show kids Jesus’ love in a real tangible way, thereby affecting the trajectory of their lives and many others forever!