by Rev. Susan Holden, UNLV Oasis Campus Ministry
“Many thanks to all who helped make the North District Leadership Training Conference “Ripple Project,” a success. Local churches donated various items and brought them to the North District Leadership Training. During the day, while at the training, attendees took time out to put the packages together. Then volunteers wrote notes of encouragement to go inside the packages.
Between the two groups at Green Valley and Bullhead City, we created 60 care packages for college students in the valley who have aged out of the foster care system. The cluster who gathered in Flagstaff also made care packages to be distributed to students at NAU.
The idea for this North District Ripple Project came about through a collaboration between our UNLV Campus Ministry, UNLV School of Social Work, and Clark County Step Up. Judy Tudor, a UNLV instructor who trains social workers about the needs of foster youth, meets regularly with college students who are alumni of the foster care system. She asked them what keeps them motivated to stay in school. Some had seen their friends receive care packages from their families and expressed a desire to receive something thoughtful like that.
Clark County Step Up provides the extended fostering benefits given by Nevada law. Those who have technically aged out of the system at age 18, are eligible for transitional support until age 21. Many in the Step Up program are enrolled in college or another vocational training program. With a collaborative spirit, we have identified at least 45 students who will receive the care packages during mid-terms.
This project helped many of our folks to realize the need for young adults, who often do not have a deep support system, to know that others recognize the great challenges of getting a degree and to know that we care. They will know that the packages came from the folks of the United Methodist Churches in their community. They will hear that we care about them and are rooting for their success. And hopefully, they will connect with us in person through the Campus Ministries and outreaches at UNLV, NAU, and CSN.
And, best of all, the Ripple of God’s love will continue to radiate outward into our community!