The word that comes to mind when I think about monthly Club gatherings is BELONGING. I love how every aspect of club creates a sense of belonging for our teen families. From the minute they walk through the door they’re greeted by a volunteer and welcomed with a smile, hug, and conversations that show they are seen and cared for.
For a couple of families, this was their first time attending a club. Many of them had been to the Christmas Event and wanted to come and see what a ‘regular’ club gathering looked like and to reconnect with the volunteers they had met in December. It was such a beautiful visual to see these new families fit right in. Remembered, seen, and having a place of belonging.
One of my favorite aspects of club is the donation table. There is never a month that goes by that we don’t have a surplus of donations for our families to choose from. It amazes me how there have been so many months that I have heard from the families that they were in need of a certain item or that they wish that they could afford to buy their child a certain toy and they have been able to find it at the donation table. To me that just speaks to the way that God can use tangible items to display His love for His children in very unique and specific ways to show these families that they are cared for and that He will even meet their most basic needs.
I also love that we eat dinner as a “family” because it too demonstrates a sense of belonging and being a part of a larger community. It’s so fun to hear conversations and watch friendships being built around the dinner table. It displays that we’re there to support one another whether by simple things such as letting our mamas eat dinner while we hold their sweet babies or by just simply listening about their days and getting to know each other better.
Sarah led us in a silly game to start off the program and it was so great to hear our teen parents and volunteers laughing and having time to be carefree. One of the teen moms who attended camp over the summer shared her experience with camp and encouraged the other teen moms to start thinking about signing up to go this summer. The thing that impressed me about this teen sharing was that it was her very first time at club and she felt so comfortable with everyone that she couldn’t wait to share with the other teens. Her passion about camp spread throughout the night amongst the other teen moms and they were talking to Myrna about how they either wanted to go to camp for the first time or that they wanted to go again because they had such a great time last year!
For Club Talk, Fred spoke on the need for God in our lives. It was so inspiring and personal and I could see everyone engaged with what he was sharing and at times able to relate with his personal story of thinking that He did not need God anymore and that he could handle his life on his own. He shared about some of the bad choices he made and the consequences that stemmed out of that, but because he grew up knowing who God was he was able to go back to those deep roots and rebuild a Godly foundation for his life. He encouraged all of us to look into our own lives and see the ways that God has been there for us in the good and bad times. He affirmed the teen parents by praising the commitment they have made to their children by being there to raise and care for them. He also challenged them to start thinking about what it would look like to start establishing deep roots about God in their children’s lives so that when they get to hard times in their lives they will be able to go back to those roots and remember that God is always there and wants to meet their needs no matter how big or small they may be. The group discussion time was so rich and encouraging because so many of the teens shared about their lives and the ways they have seen God meet their needs. They also shared about the people God has placed in their lives to help meet the needs they have. I loved looking around the room and seeing both volunteers and teens engaged with one another.
The night ended with the teen moms excited that the craft would be making slime for their kiddos and the dads spent time with our male mentors and getting to know each other better.
The overall evening was such an enriching time. Every time I leave club I feel so grateful and blessed that I get to participate and belong in YoungLives!
Adrienne Garcia, North OC YoungLives Staff