My truck bed squeaks as I pull up the rough gravel driveway of 130 W. South St. A recent donation of bikes in the truck-bed, we open up the bike-shop to sort and store the latest donation. I pull an adult bike to the side, it's an old style that neighborhood kids wouldn't want, but will serve a homeless friend perfectly.
Pastor Crabbs stops by. He has our mutual homeless friend in his car and directs him to the bike. To this man, it is a Godsend. He has no car, and transportation to clinics, workshops, and services are vital to him. We raise his seat a little, inflate the tires, and send him on his way.
I return to the Front Porch. South Street Ministries works with Summit County's Summer Youth Employment Program to hire four high school teenagers to work with us through the summer at our summer camp, bike shop, and gardens. For extra hours, these kids will help clean the Front Porch Cafe.
One of the high school students is doing just that. He preps the salad for Thomas and Larvett and cleans the tables and dishes. He rode his bike to the Front Porch to work, a bike he received from the bike shop.
Two o' clock approaches and we must return to the Upper Room for our Summer Program. The youth asks for a ride and I gladly oblige, placing his bike once again in the back of my truck. We travel the few blocks back to 130 W. South St and he comments that he has never worked at a restaurant before. This is one of his first work experiences giving him the skills he needs to be successful.
We pull up the gravel drive-way once again and the kids begin to show up. Summer camp is starting and the summer lunches have arrived. 30 children pack themselves into the Upper Room to play, eat lunch, draw, read, participate in crafts, Bible, games, and snack. Our two summer interns and ever-faithful Bobby Irwin are leading the program well with the help of other volunteers and the four Summit County workers.
I sneak off into the Crabbs house to print the Bike-shop spreadsheet. I add one more page of names and hours. We are over 100 now. Over 100 kids who have worked on a bike, earned their appropriate hours to take a bike home. Over 100 kids who have worked side-by-side with loving Christian volunteers who share with them Good News, Gospel. I print the new pages and store them in the shop preparing for the rush of kids that will soon arrive.
6 o' clock rolls around and bike shop is open. It starts off small, just 5 kids asking for a bike. I remind them that bikes are not free here, that they cost hours (hours increase depending on your age). They begin to work on bikes as volunteers show up to help. For the next two hours, the gravel driveway of South Street Ministries becomes a bike shop. Children are sprawled out working on brake lines, fixing flats, installing training wheels.
'Righty-tighty, lefty loosey,' explains a volunteer as he teaches a 8 yr. old girl how to take a bolt on and off. The kids that have finished their hours ride off on their new bikes, the bikes of children who still need to finish their hours are stored back in the shop. The children haggle with the volunteers to take their bikes home early.
Come 8, the bike shop closes and a young girl comes crying across the yard. Someone has stolen her bike. We look around, but it is no-where to be found. Her father stops by to talk to me. Nothing encourages me more than a father in Summit Lake advocating for his daughter. I remind him that we store the bikes of the kids working on bikes, but if a child simply leaves their bike on the ground, we can't guarantee it's security.
He nods knowingly. He asks if she can make a bike at the shop. "Of course," I reply. He consoles his daughter as they walk home. I head home as well, dirty, greasy, and off to a well-deserved rest.
A few days later, my homeless friend stops in the Front Porch. He excitedly begins to tell me that he now has Jesus in his heart. We talk for a time, work through a present issue, and he eventually returns to his reading.
I share this to highlight some of the summer ministry happening at South Street. We have been witness to two neighborhood presences. One, a youth-filled yard at 130 W. South St, the other a hub for homeless, recovery, business, employment, and fellowship at 798 Grant St., the Front Porch.
As I end my day, I pray and thank God. I thank God for keeping us safe, for a summer of harvest, for bike shops and gardens, and summer youth employees. I thank God for His Spirit that flows throughout these places and grows in the nooks and crannies of homeless hearts, neighborhood youth, suburban volunteers, and seasoned ministers like myself.
God is good. All the time. (But especially this summer!!)