Article by Urban Alliance staff.
Faith Ministries Church sits at the intersection of Vine and Burton Streets in Hartford, in the heart of a neighborhood that is filled with people who are working hard to provide for their families, but sometimes need a little extra to help get by.
Faith Ministries has stepped up to relieve this burden that some parents are facing, and to ensure that children in their neighborhood are provided with a meal twice a week.
To do this, Community Renewal Team and Urban Alliance have partnered through Urban Alliance's Next Generation initiative to identify and provide free summer meals for children and youth at Faith Ministries Church and other local organizations in the Urban Alliance network.
The goal of Next Generation is to help children and youth age five to 18 achieve academic success, develop character and receive support through healthy relationships by collaboratively increasing the impact of local in- and out-of-school programs.
"The Summer Meals Program has allowed us to provide meals to children who are a part of our congregation and in our community. The children look forward to receiving meals on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons. The parents are appreciative that their children are able to receive a meal," shared Alyssa Lilly, youth leader at Faith Ministries.
But it doesn't stop there. In addition to providing free meals, Faith Ministries Church is helping a teen build leadership and employment skills as a Summer Meals Program assistant at their church, through a grant provided by Urban Alliance.
"The grant from Urban Alliance for the Summer Meals Assistant has allowed our church to provide a job and responsibility to a young woman in our youth ministry," said Lilly. "By allowing us to provide this job we've made an impact on this young lady's life in helping her learn responsibility and skills that she can use in school, family life and later on in future jobs."
14-year-old Tamara Sheff tracks and records meal data, assists with handing out meals to the children, and provides additional help for the youth leaders during the Summer Meals Program.
And, she does it all with a smile.
"I have enjoyed this opportunity so much," shared Sheff. "I learned that with having a job you have responsibilities and things that have been done appropriately. I have developed many skills such a communication, multitasking and other life and job skills. This opportunity has helped me prepare for future jobs. This has also help me sharpen these skills that I can apply in school and life experiences. I also enjoyed it because I was helping others and providing them with something good. It has helped me become more mature and motivated me to want to have a job. This opportunity has affected me in a great way."
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