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KIDS HOPE | All Is Not Bright

05.16.17 | The City | by Sara VanLaan

KIDS HOPE | All Is Not Bright

    Kids Hope USA develops one-on-one relationships through the creation of church-school partnerships that pair church members with at-risk kids in supportive, mentoring relationships. Here at Crossroads we have developed a partnership with Stocking School. Through Kids Hope Crossroads has about 50 mentors who have committed to students at Stocking this year. Here is a story from one our our Kids Hope Mentors.

    This particular noon hour visit gave me a window into my girl’s world. It involved doing art. Normally she picks board games. She doesn’t like to lose.

    She chose paint this day.

    I can create pictures with words much more effectively than with a brush. We decided to pick a giant piece of paper and see what we could come up with. Hmmmm. I suggested an outdoor scene secretly thinking I could possibly draw a silhouette of a tree and put splashes of colors on for blossoms in spring.

    I live in the country with lots of wide-open spaces.
    She lives in the city.

    I drive over 30 miles to mentor in the inner city school.
    Her mother has no car.

    I have a 5 bedroom home.
    They have none.

    I have sweet memories of my Daddy.
    She has never met hers.

    We own our own business.
    Her mother is trying to get a job after recently getting out of jail.

    Our lives are as opposite as the skin color holding the paintbrushes.

    I drew the awkward tree. We both dabbed colors of green, white and pink on the branches. She made grass. I made a flower. She made the sun shining down. We both worked on a tire swing hanging from a branch. It was lovely if I must admit.

    Then she dipped in black.

    It went swipe by swipe over the entire scene we just created. My initial silent reaction was to chastise, but thankfully I kept that from coming out.

    I let her speak through paint.

    After about five swipes she spoke these profound words coming from her 8-year- old lips,

    “Sometimes, there is dark in your world.”

    I recently did a Walmart trip with her Momma. Their clothes were stolen after they were kicked out of the Aunties home. It was then that I discovered they were living in transitional housing for homeless families. They are brought nightly to sleep in partnering churches that offer them temporary shelter. Her life is anything but stable.

    It was her second grade classmates comment a few months prior that has seared the importance of mentoring. I brought cupcakes for her birthday. Another student also had a birthday in the class as well. His treat had not arrived to pass out yet. This young boy said something like,

    “Mentors never forget. They always show up. ”

    His assessment of my role just raised the bar in my mind and also added the weight of the responsibility of showing up.

    This week I brought glitter. We took the dried, thick, black masterpiece and made dandelions. The kind that have morphed into the white fluffs of dreams in the wind when blown. She made stars in the black sky. She painted a blue heart above her name.

    I would title the piece, “HOPE in the dark.”

    Rebecca Slagh is Crossroads Director of School Engagement.  If you'd like to know more about Kid's Hope please contact her at