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King University News :: Students Practice Stewardship in New Jersey and New York over Spring Break

During this year’s Spring Break, two groups of students, led by King College faculty and staff, put into practice an ideal ingrained into the fabric of King life – the ideal of stewardship. 

Urban Promise Spring Break Mission Trip – Camden, New Jersey 

“In Camden, you can find God and faith in the most unlikely places.  These do not have to be in the usual places you would expect to see them.  In Camden, you can see faith and hope in the faces of the children in the afterschool program at Urban Promise or even driving on the streets of Camden seeing the boarded up houses with graffiti – it’s all around you,” Brittany Cook, a senior Mathematics major from Shelbyville, Tenn., stated about her Camden Spring Break Mission Trip.

Ten students who included Cook, Malorie McBride, Jana Gross, Tia Keitt, Brooke Johnson, Tyler Stanley, Haylee Childs, Isaac Colbert, Alex Azeredo and Brent Baker, accompanied by faculty member Dan Kreiss, assistant professor of Youth Ministry, and staff member Emily Loudon, director of Campus Life, traveled to Camden, N.J., for a Spring Break Mission Trip March 12-17th.

Camden, N.J., is a city located across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pa.  Camden, having been once known as thriving city for manufacturing and industry, is perhaps best known now for its struggles with urban dysfunction, crime, drugs and violence.

The group traveled to work with Urban Promise, a Christian-based outreach to children and teens in Camden whose mission is “To equip Camden's children and young adults with the skills necessary for academic achievement, life management, spiritual growth, and Christian leadership.”

Through the mission, Urban Promise provides a K-8 school and a high school for the young people of Camden.  For those students who have not met their academic potential in traditional school settings, Urban Promise offers summer camps, alternative schools, job training initiatives, and a host of other programs challenging youth to develop their academic, social, creative, spiritual, and leadership potential.

The King College team worked for the week at various Urban Promise locations around Camden doing physical tasks and labor in the morning.  This included cleaning and improving the grounds and areas around schools and after school locations, washing school buses, and cleaning and moving and sorting furniture at locations. In the afternoons, the group was split; half of the group worked with the junior high afterschool program. The week the team attended was “Junior High Olympics.”  The week of activities with the children was competition style with the children divided into four groups, competing throughout the week in various activities and games.  The other half of the King group worked at Camp Peace: an after school program for K- 4th graders.  This group played and interacted with the children, helped with their homework, and did crafts and lessons with the children.

While the goals are of making an impact with the children of Urban Promise, helping the teachers, interns, and staff with fresh new faces and enthusiasm, as well as getting to experience the city of Camden, this interaction is only scratching the surface. The bigger goals of the Camden Spring Break Mission trip are to encourage students to consider involvement with the poor beyond a short term experience and to permit students to experience God in a different environment and new way where initially it may appear that He is absent.

Brooke Johnson, junior Youth Ministry major solidifies the goals of the trip by saying “I have had life changing experiences during both of my Camden trips.  I experienced personal growth and developed a passion for urban ministry that will forever hold a special place in my heart.

CAMBA Spring Break Mission Trip – Brooklyn, New York

Thirteen King students, led by Greg King, assistant vice president for enrollment management, and Chris Toomey, head coach for Women’s Volleyball, traveled to Brooklyn, N.Y., over spring break to work with CAMBA, a non-profit agency that provides services that connect people with opportunities to enhance their quality of life.  The students spending their Spring Break working for CAMBA were Cherish Bowman, Julie King, Carroll Cavender, Meygan Cox, Andrea Dorner, Heather Harmon, Sara Fox, Brittany Rock, Brandon Crook, Kandis Crook, Brad Hughes, Austin Parks, and Blake Patrick. 

CAMBA is based in Brooklyn and serves more than 30,000 individuals each year.  Services offered in nine program areas to meet the diverse and changing needs of the agency’s clients and assist in each client meeting his/her goals toward self-sufficiency include adult family literacy, business community economic development, family services, HIV/AIDS health related programs, housing services housing, immigration, refugee diversity program, legal services, workforce development, and youth development. King alumna from the class of 1990, Melissa Mowery, serves CAMBA as the program director for the Homelessness Prevention Initiative.

Students stayed in Manhattan while serving at several of CAMBA’s work locations.  In addition to CAMBA’s work projects, the students were exposed to inner city life in one of the biggest cities in the world.  During the course of their daily work, they were exposed to issues of race, diversity, and homelessness in Brooklyn.  “Working with CAMBA allowed these students to truly experience first-hand the socio-economic issues that are prevalent in a large city such as New York City,” said Toomey.

“This year - the fifth we've had the Southern helpers - five of them worked at the food pantry, helping to get the Spring Food Drive off the ground,” said Lucila Santana, project coordinator for CAMBA’s food pantry.  “The kids were great.  They wanted to work every minute.  While the entire two months of the drive is a valuable time for the pantry, this single week stands out. The students provide the extra bodies, and energy, to get some much-needed extra work done.”

While in New York, students also visited Ground Zero, World Trade Center Memorial, Brooklyn Tabernacle Church, Empire State Building, Time Square, Wall Street, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park, and other culturally significant landmarks.  

“The trip helps broaden our students’ world view because it immerses the students in the middle of a totally different culture,” said Toomey.  “The students are able to see how blessed they are; and, they are reminded never to take anything for granted.  The chance to see people in such great need typically moves our students to seek out opportunities to serve others.  A mentor of mine once told me that our motto should be ‘I am Third’ – meaning, God is first, others are second, and I am third.  We ask our students to be the hands and feet of God.  If they sincerely take this to heart, I observe God transforming their hearts, minds, and souls through the process.”