Kids Hope: May 2017

The month of May brings with it a bit of sadness and nostalgia as this will be the last month that Barb Joldersma will be the co-director of Hope Church’s Kids Hope Program. I thought it would be a good thing to interview Barb for this month’s article and ask her to look back at her 8 years of serving to give us a glimpse of what those years were like. Personally, I have had the privilege of working for and with Barb for the past 6 years and will miss being her partner but at the same time know that she has prepared me well to continue on as the Kids Hope Director. Let’s hear from Barb now.

How long has Hope Church been involved with Kids Hope and who was the first Director?
Hope Church began its partnership with Vanderbilt Charter Academy in the Fall of 2003. The first director was Judy VanderWilt.

How long have you been involved with Kids Hope?
I became a substitute mentor in the Fall of 2009, was asked to consider being a co-director by Judy in the Spring of 2010, accepted and have been co-director ever since, first for one year with Judy, then 5 years with Anne Duinkerken, then 1 year with you [Vicki Rumpsa].

What made you decide to get involved with this program?
We had recently joined Hope Church and I was looking for ways to get involved. As a retired teacher, working with children seemed like a good option and learning that there was a need for substitute mentors made it even better given our desire to be free to help out and visit our East Coast children and grandchildren during the school year.

What changes have been made since you first got started?
The biggest was the decision by our church to partner with Third Reformed Church. Judy had worked long and hard trying to get a partnership going with New Community/Fourth Reformed so when that didn’t work out, it was wonderful to be approached by Third. Since we’ve partnered with them, the number of children served has doubled with each church having identical numbers of mentors each of the two years we’ve worked together.

What are some of the rewarding things that have happened during your time as co-director?
I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many members of the Hope Church family who I would not have known well had it not been for our mutual involvement in Kids Hope. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know and working with the staff of our church whose efforts on behalf of this ministry, I’ve really appreciated. Working with the Vanderbilt staff, particularly the office personnel with whom I’ve had the most contact, has also been a pleasure. And of course, watching the interactions between mentors, prayer partners and the children and their families at our annual Kids Hope Celebration makes it all worth while.

Tell us a few of your favorite memories:
Since the role of a co-director is to recruit, train and support our mentors, prayer partners and substitute mentors, most of my favorite memories are second-hand. They are usually the result of email exchanges or conversations at church with mentors who want to share something special which happened during their mentoring time. In many cases, it’s a change in attitude on the part of their Kids Hope child; sometimes it’s to tell me that something I suggested in our Weekly Memos has worked well for them. Of course, I also appreciate the hugs I get sometimes when I visit the school from a KH child who I have substitute mentored. That’s pretty rare….takes a special kind of child….but it means a lot when it happens.

How do you see the Kids Hope Program making a difference in the lives of kids that we mentor?
Many of the children we mentor really benefit from one-on-one time with a caring, faithful adult who is able to help them work on their academic and emotional weaknesses. When teachers refer students to us, they often indicate that they are from single parent families who struggle to put food on the table and whose work schedules make it hard for them to give their children the time and attention they really need. More than anything, our Kids Hope students value the fact that we show up on a weekly basis just to work with them. It’s not unusual for them to ask, “Who else do you come to work with at Vanderbilt?” You should see the grins on their faces, when our mentors assure them that they are there for them and them alone.

What do you see your self doing with the few free hours you have now that you don’t have the weekly responsibilities of Kids Hope?
Initially, Dan and I plan to visit some of the National Parks which have been on our bucket list for a very long time. Being able to travel during the months of September and April will be a real bonus. I also plan to consider other ways to involve myself in the life of Hope Church. I know there’s always a need for volunteers; I just don’t know where I’ll find my place.

Anything else you would like to say?
I have thoroughly enjoyed my years as a part of the Hope Church Kids Hope leadership team and I will always be grateful for that opportunity. I think Kids Hope is a wonderful program and I hope and pray that it will be a part of Hope Church’s ministry to the community for many, many years to come.

~Barbara Joldersma & Vicki Rumpsa, Kids Hope USA Co-Directors