Common Grace - "Kindness for Kids"
P.O. Box 31116
Honolulu, HI 96820
We are a small non-profit organization in Hawaii that facilitates partnerships between public elementary schools and neighborhood churches to provide mentors with highly vulnerable children. Currently, our partnerships serve twenty elementary schools and approximately 150 students.
Many of our students face challenges such as broken homes, non-English speaking families, incarcerated parents, and even homelessness. The children selected by the schools don't always have behavioral or academic problems; sometimes they just need the personal attention that an adult mentor can provide.
Mentoring is a "structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support, and encouragment" (www.mentor.org); our mentors commit to meeting with their students for one hour, once a week, on their school campus. Although they are often church members, the mentors respect church-state separation -- it is understood that no one will impose a religious agenda.
We are supported by the state of Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent, and we received the Partnership in Education Award in 2007. Jay Jarman, our Executive Director received the 2009 Outstanding Advocate for Children and Youth award from the Hawaii State Legislature.
SCHOOLS WE CURRENTLY SERVE
August Ahrens Elementary
Pearl City Highlands Elementary
Ben Parker Elementary
THE HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZATION:
Common Grace was founded in 1999, one day after the Columbine High School shooting tragedy.
Jay Jarman, a semi-retired former pastor, youth minister, and active storyteller in five public elementary schools, approached the principal of a local high school and asked ‘what would it take to prevent a similar tragedy from happening here?'
The principal's response was immediate and direct: "It would take caring adults who care enough to come on campus and befriend our kids. None of the Columbine shooters had even one adult friend!"
A few days later, the Common Grace inspiration was born, with Jay spending his Wednesdays at Aiea High School as a volunteer detention supervisor which led to his certification as a substitute teacher with increasing influence through his special talent as a Storyteller to kids.
"How many church members throughout Oahu could spare a few hours a week and experience the joy of being out here loving and serving these kids? How many schools would enjoy being part of a team of volunteers" were just a few of many questions which inspired the inception of the Common Grace mission.
THE PURPOSE OF THE ORGANIZATION
Common Grace helps build resiliency and confidence in children who suffer from low self esteem or who lack positive role models in their life.
Common Grace's mentorship program adds to the social "toolbox" of assets for the at-risk youth by providing constructive use of ‘non-classroom time' either before school, after school or during lunch periods .
Common Grace churches, especially those that utilize school facilities, are provided an avenue to "give back" to the community through schools by providing them with a reliable source of committed and caring volunteers.
Common Grace provides a connecting point for churches that are looking for opportunities for community outreach for servicing children and families. School administrators, faculty and staff are able to utilize valuable human resources from churches in their community through the Common Grace organization without concern for violating the principles of restraint of religious activities in public schools.
GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Common Grace Vision Statement includes:
- Recruit and train qualified and caring volunteers from churches and high schools
- Enhance mentoring program through a meaningful relationship between one volunteer from a church or a high school with one child from a public elementary school.
- Build relationship between high schools, churches and elementary schools through cooperation and willingness on the part of principals, pastors, staffs and faculty of schools in the low income communities
Common Grace objectives:
- Continue to grow and build partnerships between churches/public and private high schools and elementary school
- Provide training for all team coordinators to ensure better communication and cooperation among mentors
- Improve record keeping of current and past mentees
- Create two more Youth Grace partnerships mentoring program for high school students helping elementary kids
Current Projects and Status:
Common Grace Common Grace has over 135 volunteer mentors. They are generally mature individuals, standing on firm moral foundations, who serve as excellent role models and mentors. This school year, we are providing mentors, connecting siblings, parents and guardians, calculating over 500 people who receive mentoring and related social services. One family was homeless until they moved into their first apartment. But the place was bare. Their daughter's mentor gave them a kitchenette set and Common Grace also provided additional necessary furniture. Currently, we are recruiting eager teen mentors from both private and public high schools. Common Grace is sponsoring a pilot project of a direct partnership between a public high school, Kaimuki High School, and a nearby elementary school, Palolo Elementary. We will provide a 12 weeks training, background checks, transportation and on site coordinators who will oversee and guide the program hands on. This high school mentoring program will positively impact both the high school students and the elementary kids. National research has shown that relationships between little kids and high school students have a direct and measurable impact on children's lives.
- 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
- •27% less likely to begin using alcohol
- 52% less likely to skip school
- 37% less likely to skip a class
- 33% less likely to hit someone
The program will conclude by the high school mentors attending the elementary kids' graduations and vise versa. This will provide accountability to stay in school.
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