Public School Outreach Mentor: Hezekiah
Hope Collaborative, one of Southeast’s Local Mission Partners, was launched at the end of 2017 with the goal of supporting churches and removing barriers to their engagement while they respond to needs of their communities. Their Public Schools Outreach ministry mobilizes the church to serve in public schools as mentors and volunteers to vulnerable kids.
When Hezekiah heard Hope Collaborative needed mentors for their Public Schools Outreach ministry, he immediately signed up. He was happy to help wherever they needed him, he said. And that’s how he found himself at a table full of 6th grade boys.
As a mentor with Public Schools Outreach, it is not Hezekiah’s job to tutor or coach his boys. His goal isn’t directly to raise their grades, correct their behavior, or improve their attitudes. When he’s with them, his goal is to be present and to build hope, and the desire is that other areas of their lives will improve as they feel loved and seen. What they need most from him is to show up consistently, listen, and be a positive influence in their lives.
Of course, Hezekiah's boys didn’t immediately trust him. Some were there simply to get out of a class they didn’t want to attend, so they weren’t all that attached to the experience. Some had issues they wanted to work through, but they had to determine how Hezekiah would respond. He had to be prepared not to be hurt or frustrated when it seems little or no progress was being made.
They were all getting used to one another—a process that was necessary for trust and growth together. Hezekiah soon learned that he could bring a card game or other easy activity that created the perfect environment for casual, walls-down conversation. Asking a middle school boy to explore his feelings in a small group can be a recipe for disaster. So Hezekiah gives them a setting that draws them out naturally and comfortably.
Hope Collaborative provides trauma-informed training, resources, and ongoing support for all its volunteers. As a ministry, they recognize that many of the vulnerable children and families they serve are coming from difficult and stressful situations. Each volunteer is trained to approach the relationships with compassion and wisdom. Hope Collaborative equips their volunteers with best practices, creative ideas, wise boundaries, and ongoing counsel.
Hezekiah recognizes the need for more volunteers to step into these kids’ lives. He believes there is an especially great need for Godly men who can be present for vulnerable students. That simple act of consistently showing up can make a huge impact on a student who faces constant insecurity at home. That one hour a week could be their first introduction to a God who is faithful, who always shows up, and who loves them unconditionally.
To get involved with vulnerable kids through Hope Collaborative, visit thehopecollaborative.org.