Yvonne Chappell got connected to South Street Ministries through the Youth Employment for Success program, a program of Jobs and Family Services designed to provide opportunities for youth to learn employment skills over the summer. Yvonne was one of our YES workers this past summer at the Front Porch Café and Summer Camp. She journeyed alongside us through a hard summer season, and was consistent in showing up and bringing her full self everywhere she went. After the summer, she was hired on staff at the Front Porch Café. Yvonne is currently attending Case Western University studying Psychology and Communication Science, with the hopes of becoming a child counselor. This blog is a part of 20/20 Come and See series.
My summer at South Street Ministries has been full of opportunities, and new adventures. When I first began I was acutely aware of the many things South Street Ministries had to offer, from a Café to a Summer Camp. I’d heard the names of the different programs, wondering what they each looked like up close. I started at the Café where I washed dishes for most of the time; I was okay with this because I happen to enjoy washing dishes. The first week on the job was a waiting period before the Summer Camp program began and I wasn’t expected to return to working at the Front Porch. Through Summer Camp I got to experience the garden program, (honestly speaking, not my favorite thing in the world), but I will say that I love the initiative of teaching the kids about where their food comes from. An overall thing that I have witnessed in the entirety of South Street Ministries is the people and how they interact with the community around them.
There may be a bunch of programs under South Street Ministries, but one constant throughout is the group of people who give their hearts and time. At the Café you have Gary, a behind the scenes kind of guy, who keeps you laughing and on your feet. You also have Joe, the boss man, who is always in a meeting of some sort getting things done for the whole of South Street. And Jacqueline, or Jackie as I’ve come to call her, who graciously took me under her wing and taught me the ins and out of the Café; she is also over the garden program. Lastly there is Erin and Toni, two of the most down-to-earth women I have ever met, who continue to have my back no matter what. Gary, Joe, Jackie, Erin and Toni are The Front Porch–no matter who walks in the doors, everyone gets a “Hello” and a “How are you?” Most of all they embrace each other and lean on one another for support through loss, planning, and everyday life.
The Summer Camp program introduced me to the rest of the staff of South Street Ministries. There was Bobby, the biggest teddy bear ever, who all of the kids know and love. There was David, newer to the program, but just as important–running Summer Camp and Bike Shop with Bobby. There was Amber, the creative mind who comes up with super fun crafts. She is also an encouragement to the kids for them to express themselves through art. That there was the many volunteers that came on a daily basis.
While working at South Street Ministries I have seen many genuine acts of kindness. Anyone who walks into the Café can use the bathroom without buying anything–a small blessing with huge benefits for those who need it. For patrons who are less fortunate, Gary is always ready and willing to give a free meal no matter the cost. Also, within the community of the Café some people come in on a regular basis and they, too, will extend their time and money for anyone. For example, Don Drumm. who is a regular, comes in almost everyday, took time out to come back to the Café and install ticket racks in the kitchen for Gary (who by the way didn’t ask for this nor was he expecting it.)
This summer I had the great opportunity of finding some of my voice through helping the kids and working in the Café. When I first began this summer, everywhere I went I was slow to talk to anyone I was unfamiliar with. Throughout the summer, I began coming out of my “comfort zone” as I worked in the Café and had to greet customers and serve them. I began openly starting conversations and learning about people. When I worked at Bike Shop, I would talk to the volunteers that came through. After this summer I feel ready to jump into the social world at school and be comfortable in new conversations.
This summer was amazing for me. I learned how to make three different types of salad, sauté onions and peppers, and I even swaddled silverware! I wouldn’t change a thing from this summer, because through these various programs at South Street, I made new friends that have become like family. I wouldn’t change them for anything.