As we develop and train our leaders, there will be no services this Sunday (5/26)!

An Inside Look At Our Grace Kids Family Support Program

I found Hoboken Grace through a friend I met in November of 2020. I knew I was looking to join a home-church of my own and knew I wanted to serve children in hopes of being part of something that would make God’s Word accessible and understandable to children of all needs. When my friend heard I was looking for a church of my own, he mentioned his own, Hoboken Grace. I joined online for the first time that November and have attended weekly ever since. 

I attended in-person for the first time in January of 2021. It was the first time I had been back to a Sunday service in-person since the start of the pandemic, and I very quickly realized how imperative in-person worship was for my walk with God. Seeing others serve on teams was inspiring to me, and I knew God was tugging on my heart to serve more. In the fall of 2021, I received an email about a one-time childcare opportunity available on a Saturday for a church event. I thought this would be a great opportunity to serve with the kids’ team. 

I showed up that Saturday not knowing what to expect. I did not know too many other people or anything about the program. I was warmly welcomed and informed that our first child who arrived happened to be on the Autism spectrum, and her “buddy” unexpectedly could no longer make it to serve. I believe it was no coincidence that we were in the same room that day; I have personal and professional experience working with children with special needs and was thrilled to get to serve as this child’s “buddy” for the day. 

This was one of the biggest things I was impressed by with the Hoboken Grace Kids program: that all children were accounted for and planned for in order to feel loved, safe, and included throughout every activity. That Grace Kids’ considers so many aspects of support and embodies acceptance. They take steps to ensure that all children have the opportunity to grow their faith authentically and walk toward knowing God more. Needless to say, I volunteered regularly with Grace Kids after that first day, and I have been a teacher in the Fours & Pre-K room ever since.

It is truly amazing how God brings purpose to every part of our paths. Supporting children with all needs and abilities has been a passion of mine my whole life: I have a sibling with different needs, which led me to volunteer and internship work with nonprofits supporting others with special needs. That led me to pursuing a career of speech-language pathology, which eventually led me right here. When the conversation around the open position of Family Support Leader came up recently, I could not help but think back to conversations with my friend in November 2020. It felt like God couldn’t tell me any louder that this was a “yes”. That all of my prior and present experiences could serve Him, get to know Him, and love others better in this new way. 

As Family Support Leader, my hope is to help continue to make Grace Kids’ and God’s word accessible to children of all needs and abilities. I am really excited to get to work with families to make sure that both children and parents know that they are in a safe, supportive community and environment that fosters getting to know and planting deeper roots in God’s word. My hope is to help continue to build a team of people to create that supportive, inclusive environment.

I also hope to help lead a team of new “buddies” knowing that they are supported all along the way. Being a “buddy” means being partnered 1:1 with a child who benefits from additional support throughout the morning at Grace Kids. However, being a “buddy” does not require any previous experience beyond being passionate about working with kids and being open to new ideas. I am excited to build a diverse team of people who are excited to help all children grow closer to and get to know God better in a way so unique and individualized to them.  

My hope is sharing my own story and path so far encourages you to reflect on yours. Maybe God has been tugging on your heart the same way I felt He was tugging mine. Maybe you also are looking for a way to serve kids differently other than leading a group of them or being a teacher. Maybe you have a special place in your heart for serving children of all needs and abilities…or maybe serving as a “buddy” is the start of God doing a new thing through and for you, too.

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