Peace Camp 2018

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Peace Camp 2018

Earlier this summer 9 of our elementary aged kids participated in Peace Camp at First Presbyterian Church. We are grateful for the leadership of First Presbyterian, and countless volunteers (including Ms Jaime) to pull this off! For the past two summers MJ and Jerry Park, from Little Friends for Peace in Washington DC, have joined us.

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Aliyah, one of our returning Peace Campers said her favorite activity this year was the peace circle. Each classroom has a space that is set aside as a “peace circle” and is where teachers and campers sit together and check-in throughout the day.

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The Arts are an important tool and activity at Peace Camp just as they are at ACTS.  Many of our students shared that different art projects throughout the week were a highlight for them. Lilly participated in Peace Camps for the first time this year. She shared that she had a lot of fun but also learned a lot. For example, she had the opportunity to do some sewing as each kids made a pillow on their first day.

If we are to create peace in our world, we must begin with our children.
— Mahatma Ghandi
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They facilitate these camps all over the country with the goal of training local leaders to run the camp independently for years to come. A number of our ACTS kids were returning campers, and they were so glad to spend time with Ms MJ and Mr Jerry again!

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Here camp participants can share what feelings and emotions they are having, resolve any conflicts that may be going on, and just get to know more about one another's lives and what “makes” or “breaks” their Peace. Since camp Aliyah shared her desire to create a Peace Circle time and space as a regular part of ACTS, and she's working with our leaders to make this a reality.

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To conclude the week the kids gave a special presentation to share what they learned with their families. They also shared with the congregation at First Presbyterian and helped lead worship. We are so proud of our ACTS kids and families for making the path to peace (in our own lives, homes, community and world) a priority. If you would like more information about Peace Camp or how to get involved for next year please contact Jaime Blom or check out LFFP online

A Home of Our Own

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A Home of Our Own

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Over the last few year ACTS has experienced remarkable growth; we've almost doubled the number of kids that join us each day. In early 2016 we began looking for a space to call our very own. Until this point we had shared space with various churches and most recently Jaime and Kylen's home. We were grateful to find a house available in the same neighborhood as the current space. Before we could move in, there was a lot of work that went into creating a space that fit the needs of our kids and this organization. Inside and out, amazing transformation has occurred!

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Over the past year we've renovated the space to include an open dining room, a reading/homework room, an extra bathroom and so much more. We are so grateful for each person that donated their time and materials to this project!

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T-Shirts & Teen Night

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T-Shirts & Teen Night

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I remember hearing the phrases ‘creative problem solver’ and ‘flexible adapter’ a lot as I was growing up. In middle school our teachers explained that we needed to become these to make it in the world. In college, my small liberal arts school prided themselves on producing graduates that embodied these attributes. But it wasn’t until I began spotting these characteristics in our own teens that I realized the real-world value of these skills.

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Last week our original plans for ACTS Teens night were rained out. Instead of sitting around being bummed, or cancelling plans all together, our teens and volunteers thought creatively about what skills and opportunities we have available to us. Kylen, my husband and longtime volunteer, owns Silkscreen Marketing here in Holland offered to teach us about screen printing and the design process.

 

He had the kids sit around the dining room table and handed out drawing paper to each teen;  they then got busy sketching. Each had ideas, images, a new ACTS design dreamed up in their head… if I am honest, I was curious about how ONE uniform design would come together! Once finished, they all worked together to pick pieces of each others sketches that they liked, going back and forth, listening to each other, and being willing to let go of certain elements they liked when it wasn’t what the whole wanted. Ultimately, we combined several of the ideas into a sweet ACTS van image.We then visited Kylen’s print shop and learn about the design process from making ideas and sketches into an actual image that can be turned into a screen.

"Nothing is better than having our kiddos come to see what I get to do everyday at work!” said Kylen. “ They have great questions about how everything works. This group is really hands on which makes for a fun design and a very meaningful shirt. Their eyes light up when the ink passes through the screen onto the shirt."

In one night these kids turned concepts in their minds into shirts on their backs; this could never have all come together if they weren’t willing to think creatively, be flexible and be open to compromise. It is important to me that we are facilitating opportunities like this, chances for our kids to learn to communicate, to be willing and able to change direction and creatively find a solution to a problem

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"It turned out so sweet” one of our teens exclaimed as they pulled their freshly printed t-shirt at the end of the night, “I am totally wearing this tomorrow!”

2017 End of Year Update

People ask all the time how we find these kids, what the referral process is. The truth is that we don’t go find our kids, they find us, rather they are brought to us by one another. This is a family, and our kids know that family always cares for one another. They know that if they have a friend that really needs a safe, happy place to be that they may invite them.

The children of ACTS not only demonstrate mature understanding of extending compassion and invitation, but they also have a deep understanding and practice of their faith. Anyone who visits us for the first time, or the first time in a long time, comes to me later and comments about “their prayers!” These young children love the Lord and His creation more than anyone I have ever known. They remember to pray by name for each of their leaders, teen helpers and volunteers. They pray for the support and encouragement from our faithful partners like you. They thank the Lord for the blessing it is that we have THIS day and that we have a meal before us. It’s not lost on them how blessed we are. 

Their prayers bring every guest to tears. Even among those of us that have the privilege of hearing these prayers often, there are still tears.  Week after week, without being asked or prompted, they pray for needs that have arisen, for hope for the future, for those they know need an extra measure of love. God is working in and through these young ones. He is using them to show one another grace and what true peace looks like. And He is using them to bless, challenge and love me more and more every day. Their older siblings may have started ACTS, but these little ones will sustain it. It has been nearly a decade in the making, this ministry that ACTS is today, and I have so much hope and joy for what the next decade will bring!  

Jaime Blom, Executive Director

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2016 Year End Update

2016 was a big growth year for the ACTS family. Our younger generation of kids, ages 8-12, grew from about 8 participants to 20 in a few months. Several older, original students are now in roles of leadership. 

“It is important for this ministry to continue into the future for these younger kids. For me I know ACTS helps kids, because it helped me. Being a part of this family has had a great impact on my life.”

ACTS is more than a place to hang out. Our community is faith and family based. We focus on building respect and relationships.

“It’s a safe place to be YOU. No one judges you. We eat like a family,  pray like a family, and discuss things like a family. We are a family.”

Jerry’s life with ACTS demonstrates in a powerful way the core values of EMBRACE, EQUIP, and EMPOWER. For those who have walked with us since the beginning, thanks for your faithfulness. For our newer friends, thank you for energy, ideas and encouragement.

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2015 Year-End Update

“As friends, family, and ministry associates, you inspire me to be faithful to the call. I am deeply grateful for hugs, prayers, encouragement, dreaming with me (and shared cups of coffee). Some of you have walked with me for 9 years.

In this newsletter we share a variety of praises, challenges and opportunities. The complexity of our work reveals itself in the reality that our call to ministry is relational. Kids don’t graduate from ACTS with a certificate. We help them find new roles and opportunities to lead within ACTS and elsewhere. One of our first students, Rey, is now preparing for college and regularly leads and mentors our younger kids. We love him. 

Please consider deliberately and prayerfully the support invitations shared below. Our ACTS kids recognize the personal investments in their lives... their school art teacher, the coffee shop owner, neighbors on their street, and Jaime’s friends and family. Please stand with us for His beloved children.” -Jaime Blom, Executive Director