by Lisa Crabbs
South Street (Ministries) is often described as a "real" place. It is a community where people can express their authentic selves, brokenness and all. Because our work is in the inner-city and because of my husband, Duane's personality, there is a certain rough-around-the-edges-dynamic at South Street. That authentic grit attracts many men to come and serve.
For a time, I (Lisa) was the only female on staff with South Street. However, South Street is also a place where women can serve and lead. I want to introduce you to some of the leaders that truly have a heart for our young girls, teens and women in our neighborhood and God's Kingdom.
Kara Ulmer approached South Street close to two years ago with a heart to minister to teen girls. Her work had her advocating against sex-trafficking, but she desired to apply that same heart for ministry in a local context. She helped start South Street Girls Studio - a program specifically designed to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of our girls in a safe environment with caring adult mentors through crafts, cooking, and going through the book Lies Young Women Believe.
Stephanie Leonardi has always been sensitive to God's call. She has volunteered with South Street for several years, led the summer Camp Program, and recently moved into the neighborhood to serve and minister within the community. Her ministry of presence has impacted those around her deeply with God's love in very tangible ways. She co-leads South Street Girls Studio with Kara and directs Girls on the Run that teaches girls the importance of creating healthy habits, relationships, and builds their self-esteem through physical exercise with their peers and other adult mentors.
Toni Code has been with South Street for more than seven years. Through her relationship with Christ, she has overcome a challenging background of loss and addiction. She is now a home-owner, job-coach, and Administrative Assistant with South Street Ministries. She understands the struggles that many of our women face and does a great job speaking truth into their lives. Toni is a great encourager and advocate for the disenfranchised!
Soon to be college graduates, Emily Kosuda & Delaina Divencenzo have volunteered with After School for more than three years. These young women are beloved by the South Street children, and their added leadership has immensely supported the After School Program in many ways. They are a positive example and truly have invested in our youth with their consistent presence.
We have been blessed by terrific interns, Rachael and Amber, who poured into our kids with their love and care. Other women have stepped up to the plate to carry-on and stand in the gap to make a difference. They serve diligently and well.
And now, the Friends and supporters of WOW have helped usher in a new era at South Street.
As our women volunteers continued to give in the above capacities, it quickly became apparent that we needed a female staff person to nurture, mentor and disciple our girls. Caring, consistent relationships truly help our youth navigate the challenges in their schools, neighborhoods, and families.
Words cannot adequately express our gratitude to WOW for a female staff person. We are beyond excited to receive funding that will truly make a difference in the lives of our girls! The need is there, for Christ-centered living modeled and shared with neighborhood youth and to demonstrate the transformative power of the love of Christ!