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From the South End: Happy Endings

As we exited the bus from our last B-SAFE field trip, I realized the impact that the B-SAFE program has on the youth enrolled.  Less than a few weeks ago, I pictured the last day of the program being: 1) a series of slow teary goodbyes, 2) teenagers loitering in the front of the building in fear of having nowhere else to go, and lastly, 3) me not wanting to give the keys of the building back, because doing so would mean that the program has officially ended.

On the contrary, the last day was filled with laughter, confident teenagers (with places to go), and me holding on to the keys until further notice.  The young people of the B-SAFE program confided that the program is a summer safe haven for them; a place that they can return to year after year.



From Mattapan: A Family Finish

Our fifth and final week of the B-SAFE program at Church of the Holy Spirit church came and went all too quickly for most of our liking.  It was a jam-packed week for staff members and kids alike with the usual field trips but also the added fun and pressure of the final ceremony, talent show, massive clean-up,
and general anxieties about the end of the program.  However, the ever-resilient team at B-SAFE @ Holy Spirit tackled all challenges head on. This included having our very own lead counselor Diandra Jones provide a tasty lunch for all of our B-SAFE family on a day when no partner church was available.

 Indeed, “Family” was a personal theme for our site during our last week as we all pulled together to support our kids and teens in the talent show. There was an overwhelming amount of love and support from every direction, and it was great to see how happy the parents were to see their kids get to shine. Our last day of the program was a bittersweet trip to Nantasket Beach where we all got to splash and enjoy each others company as we realized how much we were actually going to miss each other.

Posted by Vicky Ajene, Site Assistant at B-SAFE @ Holy Spirit

From Chelsea: Grace on a Friday

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  The Bible, Matthew 18:4

We often believe as adults that there is very little that we can learn from children.  We believe that the natural order is that children learn from adults.  As a parent, I can attest to this common misconception. I had an experience this summer with a seven year old girl from B-SAFE @ St. Luke’s/San Lucas in Chelsea that reminded me why children are so precious, why this work is so important, and how much we can learn from one small child.

On our first full day field trip of summer 2011, B-SAFE @ St. Luke’s/San Lucas went to Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury, Massachusetts.  The youth participated in various activities and learned about this national historic landmark and life on a farm through hands-on activities.  The morning was dedicated to feeding animals, learning about pumping water from a well, and a guided tour of the grounds and historic home.  In the afternoon they played games, went on hay rides, and did arts and crafts. It was the latter part of the day when I experienced a selfless act of a young child.

I sat with a small group of youth making bracelets with beads.  When the beads were presented most began making bracelets for themselves with their names spelled out (myself included).  One little girl by the name of Grace showed to be diligently searching for various letters in a large pile of beads from which many youth where searching.  (more…)

Feeling Connected

This summer I have thought a lot about B-SAFE connections, particularly in reference to partner church volunteers.   Coordinating partners the past four summers has given me the chance to make friends with fellow Episcopalians all around the diocese.  These are special friendships: warmly felt and full of shared purpose.  Welcoming a volunteer team bringing lunch to their B-SAFE site, helping unload cases of juice, boxes of rolls and condiments, setting up in the kitchen as we catch up from last summer is one of the things that I love about my work.

What I have also witnessed this summer is the connection that many volunteers feel for the young people they serve.

A volunteer leader from Newton recalls an Epiphany field trip from five years ago: the current assistant site director, then a teen CIT, taking quickly to paddling a canoe for the first time and loving the new experience.  (more…)

From Chelsea: B-SAFE Gives Back to St. Luke’s/San Lucas

As a final project and as a gift to their hosting parish, the young people of B-SAFE 2011 presented St. Luke’s/San Lucas Episcopal Church with an an organized lending library.  A special feature of the library is a book where kids can write about what they  like to read.  Pictured below are Allison, who won the end of summer award for “most voracious reader” and a grateful Father Edgar in the new library.  Special thanks go to Janet Grover, the B-SAFE Word Specialist in Chelsea this summer.  Janet went above and beyond the call of duty and did much of the organization work for the library.

From the South End: Teen CITs Create and Save

We are halfway through our final week here at St. Stephen’s YLC (middle school program) and our Teen Counselors-in-Training (CITs) have just wrapped up a series of trainings by creating “wearable art” with the help of our artist-friend, Basil!  This project enabled the teens to reflect on how they define themselves, especially after five weeks of responsibilities associated with all the bustling activities that have taken place as part of their summer jobs working with middle school children.

During B-SAFE, our CITs have had additional opportunities to improve upon leadership and problem solving skills, develop positive relationships, and learn valuable information to help them build bright futures.  Last week, for example, all of our teens went to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for a program focusing on “Money Matters for Young Adults.”  (more…)

From Dorchester: Teens Star at Epiphany

The extraordinary involvement between teens and children this year at the Epiphany School was to all children in unforgettable experience.  Dedication, participation, and most of all joy and excitement about the program was demonstrated to all of the children at the Epiphany School.  Teens participated in weekly trainings, volunteered extra time after work, and helped out the Site Director, Tracy Litthcut, as much as possible.  Tracy expresses this saying, “Teens are doing a great job this year, and the three schedules we worked on together were a hit.”   We welcome teens to come  back next year for another fun and learning summer at B-SAFE.

Posted by Julian Gomez, Teen Staff Coordinator for B-SAFE @ Epiphany (Dorchester) and B-SAFE at Holy Spirit (Mattapan)