During B-SAFE staff training, I led a training rotation that I called “In This Together” about working with partners, about building relationships across difference, about understanding that we are all in this together- staff, kids, families, partners and volunteers. That together we all want the same thing, the best program and experience we can offer to young people. These goals of building relationships can sometimes seem more like challenges during a summer when current events cause division and political campaigns focus more on what separates us. But that is our work, to power on, to not give up or give in.
Each summer I have the honor of being witness to this work. About 50 partner (mostly suburban) churches and their volunteers spend countless hours and resources to make sure that each of our young people and staff eat a nourishing meal and enjoy fun field trips outside of the city. Everyone involved believes that this is important work, that it is about more than serving lunch, that it is about the care and the joy that is given and received. And, where there is joy and care, there is ample opportunity for relationship.
Every day I witness care- care in making sure a child with a food allergy has the food he/she needs, care in planning all of the last details of a field trip, care in choosing the best activities, care in holding hands while learning together on a farm, or in making a friendship bracelet together.
And, I witness joy- joy in knowing a child is fed and ready to learn or explore or discover, joy in welcoming a group of young people to a field trip and making them feel special, joy in a special interaction, joy in sharing a book, joy in petting a goat together, joy in getting to know someone they didn’t know before, joy in building relationships with children, teens, staff or members of the host congregation.
Many times over the past 5 weeks, I have wondered to myself what our city, our country or our world might look like if we joyfully cared for each other and did the work of building relationships, all in this together.
By Betsy Walsh, Partner Organizer
Betsy earned a degree in Special Education from Vanderbilt and subsequently worked with preschoolers with special needs in the South Bronx. She moved to Boston where she studied counseling psychology and raised a family. Betsy chaired the Outreach Committee at Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester for twelve years, and led their partnership with St. Stephen's. She is also a member of SSYP's Advisory Board and the board of El Hogar Ministries.