One of my favorite sayings is: "When you say 'yes' to something, you say 'no' to everything else." When I came to Carpenter's Square almost six months ago, I could see that we did a lot of things to serve our community. However, with a small staff and limited resources this often stretched us to the limits and made it difficult to know what was a priority. My focus became: What can we do well with God-honoring excellence so that we can say "yes" to what we do best? What I found was what we do best at Carpenter's Square falls into four areas: youth, literacy, recovery, and community outreach. We do these things very well in our community and we are concentrating on doing them with excellence while keeping our eyes on Jesus.
In the youth area we offer programs such as our Foundations program this summer for kids in our community. Every Wednesday this summer from 4-7 pm, Joe Hemphill, our Youth Programs Coordinator, and our staff provide games, bible lessons, crafts, cultural speakers, dinner, and a bag of food for each child to take home. Other areas we serve youth is through scholarships and affordable housing for college students. The Next Level Basketball Skills Academy at Carpenter's Square with Jeremy Pope offers basketball training and college readiness. We sponsored two sports camps this summer--one In collaboration with Lipscomb University and the other with Chris Taft Ministries. During the winter months we team with Trevecca University and offer a futsal (indoor soccer) league for immigrant and refugee youth. We know that knowledge, along with strong mentors and spiritual guidance, will help the youth in our community excel and strive to achieve a higher education and beyond.
Our literacy programs include ESL (English as a Second Language) and GED classes through Casa de la Cultura that has an office on our campus. We also offer weekly citizenship classes. Helping our neighbors achieve literacy through ESL or tutoring is an area we will be expanding as we know this is the path to better jobs and a better life for our neighbors who were born here or are from another country.
With over 500 people already walking through our doors to attend Alcoholics Anonymous support group meetings, we see the need for recovery programs every day. There are nine AA meetings a week that meet at Carpenter's Square. Our newest occupant and family member of Carpenter's Square, Restore Small Groups, provides healing communities around the world with their Journey to Freedom books and curriculum written by Scott Reall. This added dimension to the recovery process points people to Jesus in a small group setting. The program is translated into Spanish, French, German, and Swahili. The first Spanish group, Restauración, begins next week at Carpenter's Square with more groups in English and Spanish to follow.
Finally, our community outreach encompasses our special one-time events that reach out and provide needed services to those who live nearby, as well as providing events that celebrate the many cultures and rich diversity in our neighborhood. We offer free community lunches every Tuesday and Wednesday, a back-to-school event where we give free supplies to area students, a community Christmas party, cultural celebrations, and health and dental clinics throughout the year including an upcoming clinic sponsored by Siloam Health for the Congolese community. We look for opportunities to serve by providing a safe and Christ-centered space for weddings, funerals, and other needs in our building. Christ for the Nations Church also meets at Carpenter's Square serving the nations in our community.
By focusing on the four areas of youth, literacy, recovery, and community outreach we can say "yes" to what we do best: loving our neighbors, serving our community, and meeting specific needs while shining our lights for Christ in the South Nashville community.