Sometimes it’s helpful to have fresh eyes and ears.  Our new colleague, Alexis Hughes, came to us via New Jersey/Oklahoma/Indonesia …  for 20 years she was a teacher and principal in Jakarta.  She has deep wisdom, experience and discernment.  She also has fresh eyes and ears when it comes to SLF, our unique way of doing things, and our myriad partnerships.

So when our Fancy Friday creative team met to brainstorm a theme for our May 31 lunch/dessert, it was Alexis who suggested “Ripples.”   She had keenly observed in her several months here that our actions and our partnerships roll out like The Ripple Effect.  There’s an initial need, cause or action followed by a series of subsequent actions that spread out, multiply, and achieve positive outcomes. It’s harder to explain with words than with visuals, but let’s take a crack …

Fourteen years ago, Pastor Bruce Stefanik attended a Fancy Dessert and was inspired by the Grant School/Salem Alliance story.  “Someday we’ll reach out to a neighborhood school,” he resolved. A few years later, with SLF’s help, Church on the Hill staff walked across the street to Kennedy Elementary to ask how they could help.  Bruce and his wife Linda were among a team of 20-25 mentors that served teacher Christi Cheever and her fourth-graders weekly. (Speaking of ripples, Christi is now the principal at Highland!)

Church on the Hill then engaged in the full three-year CaN (Churches-as-Neighborhood) Centers partnership with SLF, where we co-funded their programs in the neighborhood and at other schools.  The School District named the church “Partner of the Year” at the 2011 Crystal Apple Awards.Tim Davis, Pastor of Outreach, helped expand the partnership to Claggett Creek Middle School, with hopes of developing a music, arts and theater program.  An early prototype of the programming during the after-school program showed promise but didn’t fully blossom.

Tim kept the idea alive, sharing it with men from other churches.  Together they formed a ministry called Brothers of Valor Mentoring, which is now headquartered at First Presbyterian downtown with a recording studio and mentors from a spectrum of arts and education backgrounds.  (To learn more about Brothers of Valor, attend their luncheon on May 2 at Willamette Heritage/Mission Mill.)

Is SLF responsible for Brothers of Valor?  No.  But we did help inspire a pastor … who led a church into the neighborhood … where they served one school … and then more schools … and dreamed of a bigger mentoring program … and partnered with other churches to operate.  The Ripple Effect.