A portion of the 300+ purses collected this Fall by WOW were given to young women from First Glance of Kenmore in December. The beautiful bags were filled with a Bible and other items of encouragement. One recipient posted a photo of the prayer of blessing that was inside the purse on her Facebook page, commenting, “I love this note! I keep it with me!”
“Our students rarely get nice things,” Jessica Swiger, Ministry Director at First Glance, points out. “Receiving the high-quality purses helped these girls to feel valued.”
Jessica, who has been working for First Glance for more than seven years, shares that most of the “at risk” youth who come to First Glance have many obstacles to overcome. The most significant issue is the lack of any supportive people in their lives. First Glance provides 10 different programs (reaching young men and ladies) to reach and serve them.
“That is why it is our mission to empower and love them and be their family, “ Jessica says. “These students are not our clients. When their mom or dad overdose in the middle of the night, they call us.”
First Glance has found that these students, especially the teen and young moms, struggle because of their lack of resources, and that lack keeps them from accessing the governmental systems which are meant to help them. For example, how does a young mom get from Kenmore to Tallmadge to regularly re-apply for assistance at Job and Family Services if she has no transportation?
Each of the programs at First Glance seeks to build assets into the lives of the youth attending. For example, Ladies’ Night Out (LNO) is a program that WOW ministries has helped in the past by completely funding the program for one year through donations from the Very Special Purse Party III. LNO meets weekly and reaches girls in sixth grade through 19 years old through fun, dinner, crafts and intentional mentorship.
Teen and Young Moms gain access to information about raising healthy children and learn skills such as sewing clothes and needed items for their children through lessons taught by mentors gifted in sewing. The moms are also taught how to educate their children and provide sensory stimulation that will enhance the lives of their little ones for years to come. The program has built-in incentives to learn to work and save for things such as the opportunity to shop at “The Boutique” for needed items.
Ultimately, it is through the relationships over time with each of the students who come to First Glance that they hear the gospel. The volunteers are trained regularly in how to “pull the trigger” in regular conversations and share the Gospel with the youth. Many lives have been transformed through First Glance such as that of Brea, a young woman now in her 20s who came up through the program. She has a job and a strong relationship with Christ and is now serving at First Glance as a “Momma Bird.” Jessica notes that Brea is great with the students there!
If God is prompting you to help, pray for, give or serve with First Glance, you can do so by contacting Jessica@firstglance.org. There are countless ways for you to love these students and change lives for the Kingdom of Christ!
-- Shelly Mountjoy, 1/17