Here in West Michigan you will often hear in conversation the term, “Up North.” We talk about heading up north for a weekend on the lake. We talk about heading up north to go hunting in the woods or snowmobiling in the Upper Peninsula. But this year at The DOCK, the term you will hear isn’t “Up North,” but “TruNorth.”
This summer as The DOCK leadership team, we were challenged to think about our true north – that one stable, never changing piece of who we are that serves as our reference point, our compass that gives us direction and guidance in everything we do as an organization.
But the more we thought about that as an organization, the more we realized that’s really the question for all of us in life. “What is your TruNorth? In what or whom do you find your direction?” So this year at The DOCK, we decided to take a journey – a journey in search of our TruNorth. For many, this is a hard journey to be on.
Jevon* is 14 and comes from a family that has long been associated with a well-known gang. He doesn’t want to follow in those ways but doesn’t want to be disloyal to the family that has raised him. Where is his “TruNorth?”
Lydia* is 13 and has never known her Mom. She sees her Dad about 4 times a year. She lives with her Grandma, but Grandma will just up and leave to go be with her boyfriend. Lydia is often left to take care of herself. She is lonely, doesn’t think much of herself and wants so desperately to just be loved. Where does Lydia find her “TruNorth”?
As The DOCK organization, our true north journey has led us to a more intentional mission to Impact Kids and Transform Community by Sharing Christ’s Love.
We have built in to our after school time more focused interactions with the students, including a community time together, a more individual homework/tutor time with academic enrichment activities as well as breakout sessions in music, art, and athletics. These intentional interactions are opening up opportunities to grow relationships of trust and support with students and really come alongside them as they seek to discover their TruNorth. But these intentional interactions also take time, planning and energy and funding. So as we take this journey, we crave your prayers and support more than ever!
Please continue to pray hard for the Jevon’s and Lydia’s. Pray they will embrace the goodness and direction of Jesus as we journey forward throughout this year. Please pray for our new teen interns, staff and volunteer team members who, in the middle of their own life journeys with their own struggles and pain, are loving kids in hard situations each and every day. Finally, please pray about how God might be calling you to invest in the journey of our DOCK kids.
Thank you for partnering with us in this journey!
In our desire to continue to grow the leadership gifts of our students and create a culture of community ownership, we have hired four teens to serve as interns for the year. Alex, Analise, Mel and Rebecca have been coming to The DOCK for several years but this year they have been hired to help plan and lead DOCK After School happenings. They are going through the GRIL – Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders – urban, faith-based leadership training program once a week and using their various gifts and talents to lead DOCK activities. Our DOCK team works very closely with these four students holding them accountable for their job and school performance and growing deeper with them as they too work to discover God’s direction for their lives. We have already seeing these teens not only being impacted and growing themselves but speaking into the lives of the younger students and impacting their lives as well.
We are already making plans to hire 12 teen interns for next summer and school year! This is a big jump but the impact this opportunity has on our teens and community is life-changing. The cost of a Teen Life Intern for a year is $2000. Would you be willing to sponsor an intern and offer this life-changing opportunity to a student?
Alexander is a senior at Kelloggsville High School and began coming to The DOCK about a year ago, shortly after his family moved to Wyoming. On the outside, Alexander is a typical teenage boy, but his story gives a glimpse into the lives of our students at The DOCK. Alexander enjoys reading, cooking, and riding his bike, yet the reasons he gives for enjoying them make you take a deeper look into his story. In his words, “that’s why I escape in my books, in books there is always a happy ending.” Due to an abusive father, being put into foster care, and dealing with anger issues, Alexander has every reason to look for a happy ending. When he was in elementary school, his father went to jail because he was abusing Alexander and his four siblings. Then a few years later, he and his siblings had to go into foster care because the unsafe condition of their home. Throughout this time, Alexander spent many days in the school counselor’s office as well as walking and thinking to clear his mind. Eventually, Alexander began to read the Bible and he says, “God’s word just fit.” So, when Alexander’s younger siblings began coming to The DOCK, he always planned on coming. It wasn’t until a friend invited him to come over after they took the ACT’s for a post-ACT party that Alexander was hooked. Alexander is now an active member of Anthem Teen Leadership and can often be seen managing the candy store for The DOCK students. He also says that he enjoys the life experiences that he has at The DOCK. Alexander is just one of the many that The DOCK Team Members have the privilege of getting to know and there are many more stories to be heard.
Summer seems like last year already but here’s a quick recap of Summer DOCK Happenings!
Anthem Breakthru – 12 High School students came once a week to discuss the ideas presented by Francis Chan in his book, Crazy Love. We talked about God’s crazy love for us and transitioned into what that love looks like in our lives as we lead at The DOCK. The summer ended with a leadership retreat at Camp Beechpoint where we worked through some challenging team building activities and then set out some plans for The DOCK After School 2015-2016 school year.
Tuesday DOCK Drop-in – Once a week we had open DOCK Drop-in – a low-key afternoon when students could come to the DOCK and hang out for a while. One week was a corn-hole tournament. Most weeks students just wanted to get out the art supplies and paint. Each week we studied various media pieces such as clips from movies and TV shows, music, video games. We then used our “3-D” process of Discover, Digest and Decide, to discern whether something was “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy and excellent” and worthy of our time and energy.
The DOCK Board and Staff worked with an outside consultant to vision God’s direction for The DOCK moving forward. Our more focused mission statement of “Impacting Kids and Transforming Community by Sharing Christ’s Love” was adopted and new after-school programming approved beginning with the 2015-2016 school year. Already in this school year we are seeing more opportunities for relationships to deepen and grow and kids being impacted.
Groups from Ivanrest Church and Youth Unlimited’s Brookside SERVE site help us do some major clean-up in the back areas of our DOCK building! Those areas are now being used for music lessons, art projects, and drama practice!
Where U At? – In October, two of our high school students and two of our leaders had the opportunity to attend “Where U At?” – a urban youth conference at Timberwolf Young Life Camp. “Where U At?” is a weekend conference for urban high school students and their leaders to get away and spend time with God and their friends. This event is meant to stretch, heal and care for the heart, soul and faith of each participant.” Everyone from The DOCK had a great time and can’t wait to get more people involved next year.
Norwex on Purpose – The Lord provides for The DOCK in many different and unexpected ways! This past summer the aunt of Christy, one of our staff members, applied for a grant through Norwex. For those of you who don’t know, Norwex is a line of environmentally friendly cleaning products whose mission is “improving quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes.” Their mission doesn’t stop at cleaning products as they also give back to charities that are near and dear to their consultants’ hearts. Therefore, when Christy’s aunt heard about this grant opportunity she applied for The DOCK, never expecting to be chosen from the nation-wide group of applicants. She was pleasantly surprised when The DOCK was chosen and we are grateful for the generosity of Norwex.
Introducing New Staff – Morgan & Sonya
The DOCK Team is excited to announce that we have added two new staff positions! The DOCK Team is thrilled to have Sonya Wentzel and Morgan Von Thaden join us as we share the love of Christ with this community.
Sonya is our Interim Program Director and is involved in the planning and implementing of The DOCK After School. She brings a passion and enthusiasm for the kids as well as a background in education and camp ministry. Sonya began volunteering at The DOCK six years ago and fell in love with the kids immediately. In her words: “I have been blessed to be a part of DOCK ministries for six years. I have three grown children so the students at The DOCK have become my kids. I live in Allegan and have thought many times, ‘How can God use a country girl to impact these city kids?’ Moses thought the same thing. So I take the journey that He has placed before me one kid at a time. I am excited to see what the future holds for this ministry and these kids.”
Morgan is a senior at Calvin College where she is studying Social Work and is involved in The DOCK After School as well as Anthem. In her words: “I am striving to love God with all my heart and to love others. The DOCK has given me the opportunity to put that into practice! I have already grown in the short time that I have been interning here. I am being challenged to step out of my comfort zone and to be confident. I have already seen kids changing. I am so excited to see where God is leading these teens and how he is shaping them to be positive leaders of their community.”
DOCK After School – Middle School Program
- $535 per day to run the program 3 days per week
- $165 per month for each student to participate
Anthem – High School Program
- $235 per day to run the program 1 day per week
- $550 for training per Adult Leader
- $550 for training per Student (currently 4 students)
- $1000 for GRIL U Training Leader
- $1000 stipend per Teen Intern (currently 4)
- $315 per day to run the program 1 day per week
Donation Request List
- Gift Cards to McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Meijer, GFS, etc.
- New Art Supplies – easels, canvases, sketch books, drawing pencils, paint, etc.
- New Sports Equipment – soccer balls, footballs, volleyballs, basket balls
- Games – card games, board games
- Tutoring Supplies – pencils, pencil sharpeners, lined paper, calculators (standard & graphing)
- Chromebook Computers
- Office Supplies – white & colorful printer paper, Staples gift cards
- Baked Goods – cookies, brownies, etc. make 1-2 times per month