We are coming to the end of a memorable year at REACH Ministries, and we want to share with you some of the important events that have occurred in 2010.
First, Suzie Slonaker has retired from active engagement at the Ministry. She leaves a rich legacy as our founder. Suzie was responsible for the solid foundation of the organization, as well as the mission and vision throughout her years of service. Suzie provided a safe haven for the infected kids and affected family members at the REACH camps. This trust and love has enabled REACH to offer vital services, such as the Mentoring Program, for those in need. She has brought God's light to shine in thousands of touches through meetings, calls, visits and letters to the children and their families. And she has changed generations because of that commitment.
Second is REACH Camp 2010.
It is one of our largest undertakings of the year, and we want to share a "behind the scenes" look at why we have camp and how we prepare for this important event.
Let's start with the why...
The pictures in this newsletter show the REACH kids hard at play during Camp 2010. These pictures are similar to thousands of other kids-camp or kids-at- play scenes that you have seen and smiled at in the past. So, what makes the REACH kids different? Many of the children you see in these pictures are isolated from their peers. Some of our families have had to move to another town because of reaction from school, neighbors or friends. Their lives are not like others...they will never be like others. For our kids and their families, camp is safe...camp is trustworthy...camp is an escape into a carefree world that they don't experience for most of their lives. They spend time with others who don't judge them because they are like them, so they laugh and they smile and they play. And when we see their faces we know that God is directing this activity. The relationships that are built at camp allow us to maintain and grow them throughout the year. We do this through family visits, special events, as well as providing mentors to many of our kids. It is in these programs that really important work is done every week and month of the year.
A little of the how...
Our preparations for camp are thorough. Injury and infections bring the potential of serious trouble to our most vulnerable children. Their bodies have difficulty fighting even simple colds. We bring bottled water instead of using tap water; we have sanitizing stations around key areas of the camp; and we have our "Club Med", which is run by a wonderful volunteer doctor from Madigan Army Hospital. Meals must be nutritious, a challenge when campers want sweets and colas. We provide balanced meals three times a day and snacks in between. These are but a few examples of the necessary precautions that must be taken to insure the wellbeing of our campers. And the events are both fun and educational. For example, an art therapy class allows the kids an opportunity to create artwork that speaks to their individual condition and attitudes. We have group campfires where individuals may speak about losing friends and/or family, and express their grief for all to share. We have fun physical activities which include zip lines, soccer, swimming, softball and many other age appropriate activities.
So while the pictures are similar to the many that you have seen (or participated in) over the years, they capture a freedom that doesn't exist for them "out in the world". And you have helped to make this possible for these children through your financial gifts and prayers.
"You are my sunshine and my delight". "You are my favorite"! "You are my first choice"! "I love you beyond measure"! "You are my work of art"! "You are a miracle...and all the angels marvel at you"! Go tell it on a mountain.
We finish our year with a flurry of family visits and holiday events. It's both a great time and a hard time, but we wouldn't trade them.
Medicines have improved both the quality and length of the kids' lives, and the older ones focus on the same things that all young people do...acceptance from peers, dating, school, career and how to cope in the ultra competitive environment that exists in our age.
The economy has caused employment worries for many of our families. It has forced some to move from their homes. It is putting pressure on food purchases and on transportation. It is changing relationships within the family units. We see dysfunctions magnified in this environment, and life is tenuous and uncertain for many of our families.
As the circumstances change for our families, we are inspired to offer more for the kids. Life-skills training, skills and gifts assessment, basic financial training, and an understanding that God says to them:
"I never tire or sleep. I stand beside you. The angel of the Lord encamps around you. I hide you in the shelter of my presence. I will go ahead of you, directing your steps and delighting in every detail of your life. If you stumble, you will not fall, for I will hold you by the hand. I will guide you along the pathway of your life."
He guarantees this to His kids, including you and me. And that is amazing.
We are so thankful for you. You have sacrificed for REACH, and we couldn't do this without you.
The REACH Team
This is the time of the year that most charities receive the bulk of their donations for the year, and we know that you are bombarded with requests. Your gift this "Holiday Season" will make a difference next year for the children and families. The task is important. And it is huge. We can accomplish it through your financial support, prayers and time. Because you keep on keeping on, so do we.