Two years ago, we couldn’t point out North Hills to you on a map. Amy Spencer “discovered” this community as we were trying to figure out missional opportunities for our GCM. We found out that it was just 5 minutes from where most of us lived, but looked nothing like our own blocks. There’s government housing in Upper Dublin? How did this even happen? Here’s what we learned…
- There are a total of 50 public housing units in North Hills with approximately 140 people living in them (59/140 are children)
- The median annual household income is $16,000 (versus $124,000 in Upper Dublin)
- Most families consist of a single parent, relatives, and children
- Many of the adults lack education beyond high school
- Most children receive free breakfast and lunch from school and return home to empty refrigerators and pantries
All of this just 3 miles from where we lived.
So we began to pray. We asked God to show us how we should respond to the needs of our neighbors. For the last two years, God has been growing our love for this community and giving us creative ways to serve them. This summer, God graciously helped our relationship to grow deeper:
We volunteered at a summer camp hosted by North Hills Community Center. The wonderful staff at the NHCC invited us for a second year to partner with them in serving the children during camp. Over the course of four weeks, our GCM came up with all sorts of ideas to connect with the kids:
- Julie helped kids demonstrate their creativity by designing their own t-shirts
- Nancy introduced them to new foods and taught them how to create a delicious meal
- Jaymi exposed the children to cultures from around the world and even set the children up with pen pals
- Jesie and Sherin gave the children blank canvases and brushes and showed them how to paint
- Chad, Keith, and Winson spoke to the children on what the life of a soldier, a techie, and a doctor is like
- Robin, Anita, and Brett kept the kids active by playing kickball during recreation
We wrapped up summer camp by hosting an outdoor movie night. Over 150 people came out (twice as many as last year) to watch Despicable Me under the stars. We met parents. We played games. We painted faces. We ate hot dogs and popcorn. It was a wonderful night and we can’t wait to do it again.
Two years ago, we didn’t even know this community existed. Two years later, God has allowed us to know many of our neighbors by name. Our hope is to be salt and light to North Hills – to demonstrate the love, generosity, and grace of Jesus to our friends.
We’re looking forward to the fall. We’re praying that God would use our lives and our lips to display glimpses of the Kingdom to this community. Please pray with us.