Long Time No C

C”, as in, Cory.

We haven’t seen this kid, now young man, in close to 3 or 4 years. Last time we saw him was when he and his family still lived across the street and a few doors down from Cross and Crown.

A lot has changed since the last time we saw Cory, both physically and maturity wise.

He has matured from the pesky, undersized, skate boarding, problem child we once knew to a nice looking, mild mannered, respectful, still skate boarding, young man.

Cory now lives in Missouri with the rest of his family but made it back to OKC for a couple weeks to spend some time with his long distance best friend who still lives in the neighborhood.

Cory initially planned to spend a couple weeks in the city over Christmas break but after a significant miscommunication between he and some of his extended family has been stranded here in the city.

Because Cory had some extra time on his hands while in the neighborhood we were privileged to visit with him several times. We talked about future goals, school (and how missing 2 weeks of school or more could definitely affect those goals), family and decision making.

There are two major realizations/confirmations I walked away with during our extended time with Cory.

First, I am genuinely optimistic for Cory. Even though Cory has a lot stacked against him and has some tough circumstances; he seems to be rising above those circumstances and staying, for the most part, on a straight path.

Second, after talking with Cory about both past and present we both laughed when we verbally confirmed that Cory is the only individual that I have baptized both spiritually and toilet-ually.

It’s a long story, but, basically, back in the day Cory got a little carried away one day at Rock Island and when he got upset he ended up throwing nacho cheese all over Rock Island. Whenever I confronted him to clean it up he then responded by throwing the nacho cheese on me while cursedly refusing to clean up the rest. I then did what any good, Christ-like mentor, parental or fatherly figure would do and physically grabbed him and dumped his head and face in the toilet.

The old is gone and the new has come, right? Not exactly how it worked. But, if I remember correctly, he did clean up the nacho cheese after he dried his head off…

Anyways, Cory informed us this past Sunday that he had worked out a plan with his aunt who lives nearby to get him back home to Mizzouri.

So, until next time, Cory, we pray the best for you and anxiously await the next time you return to the neighborhood. We love you and God bless.

Luke

Spring Schedule


Below is a copy of our youth schedule this semester. We need volunteers who want to play games, cook in the kitchen, tutor, and talk with students. We encourage volunteers to pick one time a week and commit to a full semester. If you have any questions, please email Luke or Ron.

Monday

8:00 am MS Breakfast & Ride To School
2:45 pm MS/HS Hangout

Tuesday

8:00 am MS Breakfast/Life Skills & Ride To School *
2:45 pm HS Life Skills & Hangout *

Wednesday

8:00 am MS Breakfast & Ride To School
12:30 pm Astec Student Lunch 23rd and Penn *
3:30 pm Elementary Hangout

Thursday

8:00 am MS Breakfast & Ride To School

Sunday

3:30 pm MS/HS Hangout
6:00 pm Family Meal & Worship

* devotional times

A Month Of Mouths

As we embark on a new year, it seems appropriate to build this year’s dreams upon the foundations laid in year’s past. With the youth at Cross and Crown, Luke and I have done just that. We each thought and prayed over the holidays and have come back eager to share our ideas with each other. As we surveyed what each week looked like with youth in 2010, we have found some great things that will remain and some areas we’d like to see more growth and improvement. These factors have helped tweak our weekly schedule a bit.

The main question we ask is, “What do we see God blessing?” An area of very apparent growth is in our middle school kids, particularly students at Astec Charter School. Just by shear number and regular attendance, they have come on radar as a group ready for a more intentional life skills and spiritual development time. So for the Spring semester we are going to target these kids with an added lunch devotional time at a fast food place near campus on Wednesdays. What better way to hook a teenager than using free lunch as bait!

Here’s where you come in. If we break the financial calculator out, it doesn’t take hitting the plus sign too many times to know that we need your financial partnership. We are seeking individuals or groups that would like to adopt a Month of Mouths and become the mother bird providing food for the nest. We are starting out with a goal of $60 a week. To sponsor a Month of Mouths would then take $240 dollars. We will be running this devotional lunch January-May. We need 5 sponsors to adopt a month to make this dream reality. This is a very significant opportunity to directly impact 10 students for 5 months!

If you would like more information, or would like to know how to donate, please contact either Luke or Ron by clicking the staff page and emailing us. Over the next few days, we are going to share 3 or 4 immediate opportunities, just like this one, to become either financially or physically involved with our youth this semester. So keep checking back in.

Opened Gift

Last night, the Rock Island youth swarmed Bricktown. As a reward for plugging in to the many opportunities during 1st Semester, 20 students were chosen to take a trip as a Christmas present. Even though the kids are cream of the crop, we had nervous moments near the canal including muddy bare feet.

At Earl’s, we had to divide up into 4 tables due to the Thunder game crowd. This made Luke and I tense up a bit. Good news. All the wait staff complemented the kids behavior. We then went on to watch the new Narnia movie. Minus endless trips to the concession stand and group bathroom, we saw most of the movie!

A big thanks to Carley and her students from Church of the Servant who not only joined us, but helped fund the evening. Also, a special thanks to the Walker group from Life Church for their amazing sponsorship as well.

Youth Schedule

It always takes Luke and I a long time to hammer out our youth schedule. We wait a to see who our core group of kids will be. Our neighborhood is transient, so each season we have a new group of kids that add to our core group. It takes a month or so to see who is going to dig in. We then make our schedule to fit the new core group.

This may seem to be a strange way to create a program…. and it is. However, our goal is not to run a program, but to create maximum availability to our core kids. The schedule looks as follows:

Monday
8-9am Breakfast and Ride to School
After School-5:00pm High School Time

Tuesday
8-9am Breakfast and Ride to School
After School-5:00pm High School Time

Wednesday
8-9am Breakfast and Ride to School
After School-5:00pm Elementary Time

Thursday
8-9 Breakfast and Ride to School

Sunday
3:30-5:00pm High School Time
6:00pm Family Meal
6:30pm Family Worship

College Bound


Interested in helping a Rock Island graduate pursue their education at the next level? Well, here’s your chance.

His name is Dillon Espinoza and he is a graduate of Dove Science Academy here in Oklahoma City (off of NW23 and Western). He played soccer during his time at Dove and is continuing his playing days at Hillsdale College in Moore, Oklahoma. Following the very first team tryout Dillion was asked to come back the following week to play again in front of more of the team and coaches. After he came back the following week and played, he was offered a position on the team! He is the son of a Cross and Crown employee from the community. He is the oldest of four kids and has been involved with Rock Island since he was about 12 or 13 years old.

He and his parents have applied/filed all their necessary paperwork in order to receive as much financial aid as possible and are now doing their best to tighten up the remaining funds needed. Bottom line, Dillion and his parents are several hundred dollars short of finalizing his schedule, getting his books and him being 100% enrolled for the first day of class.

To their delight they have been presented with program from Hillsdale that is called, “ChurchMatch”, which is a church tuition assistance program. Basically, the idea is that the potential student would be plugged in to a local church/youth group and that church would then help sponsor the student as he/she goes to college. In return, Hillsdale would match whatever amount is given from the church up to $200.00, per semester.

So there’s the opportunity. If you’re interested in helping Dillion continue his soccer career and his education, please contact us at Cross and Crown/Rock Island in one of the following ways.

Call us at – (405) 232-7696 – please leave a message if you aren’t able to get an answer.

or

Email us at – crossandcrownmission@gmail.com

Summer Happenings

Sooooo……turns out summer break for kiddos is almost done and spoken for and I must say that it has been quite a summer.

Like I said in a previous blog, whenever I haven’t posted in a while it’s not because there hasn’t been much going on but, chances are, there has been so much going on that it makes it tough to know where to start or make time to blog. (Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying I can’t find time to blog because I am just too busy. I do have free time but I choose to use that free time doing other things.)

Rather than write a novel about each and every occurrence that has come and gone this summer at Rock Island and Cross and Crown I will list some of the highlights (or ‘lowlights’ depending on how you look at them)…

1. The Cross and Crown Ebay Store is going pretty hardcore right now. We have had big success selling name brand, used and unused clothing items and electronics (video games, cameras, computer items). We have also had some success selling furniture items locally on Craigslist and Ebay classified. If you are interested in more about this or have no idea what I am talking about click the Ebay link at the top.

2. The Rock Island youth have gone on a few different trips, such as, swimming at a local donors home, several eating-out experiences, a pool-table delivery in the Arbuckle Mountains. Also, a few of the girls have been to the zoo, movies and Frontier City with a couple of our most reliable and consistent volunteers.

3. The two Cross and Crown interns have been a pleasure and big help to have around.

4. Thursday, Family Night’s have been a great addition to our summer schedule. This summer Ron and I decided to make more of an effort to get to know the families and/or overseers of several of the kids that we are involved with on a daily basis. So far we have been able to get to meet and get to know parents, grand-parents, aunts/uncles and brothers and sisters. We have celebrated 2 birthdays. We have been eating some authentic, home-made Mexican food, such as the following: gorditas, cheese enchiladas, mole (check that out here… AAAHHH! ) and flautas, to name a few. We have also been able to pray over a former Rock Island youth who is now a young man that recently graduated from high-school. He has had a few soccer tryouts at Hillsdale College during our Thursday night gatherings but each tryout he has come to pray and be prayed for before he goes to his tryout.

There you have it. A very concise, condensed summary of the summer thus far. We only have three more weeks before Oklahoma City schools start but I am sure there are a few more significant events that are yet to happen.

God has been so evident to us this summer, even through some tougher times with both kids in the youth program and with happenings at Cross and Crown. He never ceases to amaze me with his incredible ability to know what we really need, even when we think we know what we need. He is always faithful.

Luke

Creative Thinking

So here’s the deal…

As you may or may not know, Cross and Crown Mission has a clothing store that is apart of a ministry called, “Rebuilding the Walls”. Through this ministry the money that is raised through the store (by way of clothing and other donated items that cost anywhere from .25 cents to 25.00 dollars) several individuals and families are supported. A few women and their families from the neighborhood are actually employed by the profits from the clothing store.

Each and every item that is in the clothing store comes by way of donation. For instance, there is an individual from the church that I attend who brings some donations that are collected throughout the weeks and brings them to us at Cross and Crown. We have one other church that has a donations closet where people from the church will bring donations from their home, workplace ect. on Sundays and Wednesdays and store them in a closet. Then, generally, every 2 or 3 weeks Ron and I will go in our 15 passenger van to pick up the donations at their location.

Once the items have been taken to the Cross and Crown store, several of the women and other volunteers sift through all the items and price things accordingly. Clothing items, yard supplies, Halloween costumes, diapers, older tv’s, puppets….you name it, it’s been donated. Most things that people donate are things that they have either decided aren’t worth their time and effort to sell on their own or are of no value to them. But, what we have discovered is that once people have been educated on how their donations generate money for a ministry and/or project they tend to donate items that they otherwise wouldn’t (i.e. electronics, appliances, nicer clothing items and other more valuable items).

The idea that we are trying to build off of is an idea that has come about due, partially, to the tougher economic times. As we all know, the economy has struggled and therefore people, rightfully, become much tighter with their money. They spend less and they give less. We, because of our 501(c)3 non-profit status, have also been greatly impacted by the stresses of the economy and people giving less. We have experienced a decline in moneys given but haven’t necessarily seen as a great of a decline by way of item donations. Therefore, we have decided that we might have a greater opportunity to raise funds in the form of item donations.

The last couple months we have been experimenting with some of the more valuable donations, such as, electronics, new/unworn clothes and larger items that we physically don’t have space for in the clothing room. For example, some of the items we have held back recently include a GPS, a digital picture frame, some computer networking items, a pool table and an air compressor. These are each examples of items that if we were to place in the clothing room, chances are, people from the neighborhood either wouldn’t be willing to pay for or we are unwilling to price at their real value.

The experiment we have been working with is placing these types of items on Ebay and Craigslist. To this point we have started each and every item we have put on Ebay at .99 cents and let its’ value determine itself. Recently we sold a collection of 10-12 bicycling t-shirts, some new and some used, on Ebay and made over $100.00. Whereas, if we would have sold them in the Cross and Crown store they would have each been sold for no more than $2.00 a piece meaning that we would have made no more than $20.00 total. And, the best part is, this money is then directly recycled back into, “Rebuilding the Walls’, and, hopefully, will do well enough to fund some of the youth expenses at Rock Island.

The pool table that someone donated to us is not something that is generally donated to us. But, because they were familiar with how we sell things on Ebay and Craigslist and how the money received from the sale is to benefit a ministry, they were willing to donate the pool table.

To this point, we have collected 20-25 items through various donations that we have deemed valuable enough to sell online. Through this we have generated a few hundred dollars. The way we look at it is, that’s a few hundred dollars less that someone has to give financially to Cross and Crown or that we, as staff, have to raise.

Below are pictures of a recent venture Ron, myself and 4 of the Rock Island youth took to Falls Creek in order to deliver the pool table that someone donated to us which we listed on Craigslist. We decided to use the opportunity as a work/play experience for the kids.

A group at Falls Creek found our listing online, offered to buy the table and then offered some additional funds if we were willing to deliver the table to them. We made enough money off of the sale to pay for all travel expenses and supplies, lunch and a future trip later on this summer.

The Ebay/Craigslist experiment also has some long term potential for the kids. We think it serves as a great learning experience/skill-set for them if they choose to use it later on down the road.

If you or someone you know is interested in hearing more about this new venture, please let us know. Also, if you or someone you know has an item or items they would like to contribute towards this cause, don’t hesitate to contact us ( lwhitmire1@gmail.com or 232-7696). We even do pickups for large items!

Luke

Summer Schedule


It’s hard to believe, but summer is upon us. I came to this realization as soon as I hit the parking lot this morning as youth were walking up the street yelling, “What are we doing today?” I replied, “Well…we are going to hang out.”

We thought it would be a slow start, but by 8:30am we were knee deep in a sweaty work-out time with 6 kids. Luke had quickly designed a workout program for two categories of people – those who need to gain mass & those who need to lose mass (I’ll leave it up to you to decide which category I fit in).

By the end of the work out, our group had grown to 15 kids! So much for the slow start. Those 15 joined us to load boxes, serve meals, and color with children from 10:30 to 1:00. Then, from 1:00-4:00 we ate lunch, played video games, basketball, and a killer game of dodgeball (I think I might have a bruise or two).

Our hope is that this summer will be full of opportunities for our youth to work, play, pray and laugh. We are excited that so many came today (on their first day of summer break) to serve the people in their community!

Here’s our summer youth schedule:

Monday
8:30a workout
9:30a showers and breakfast
11:00a food pantry volunteer
1:00p hang out

Tuesday
8:30a workout
9:30a showers and breakfast
11:00a food pantry volunteer
1:00p donation pick-up and Ebay Store

Wednesday
8:30a workout
9:30a showers and breakfast
11:00a food pantry volunteer
1:00p movie day

Thursday
6:00p family meal

Friday
10:00a Take the Park!

If you are wondering what the Youth Ebay Store is, stay tuned!

Now Hiring

Position: Lawn Maintenance crew member
Hours: Thursday 8:00-3:00 (or anytime you have some free time)
Requirements: must know how to operate lawn mower, weed-eater, leaf blower ect.
Pay: none

Yes, this is a joke but it’s also half-way serious. The joking portion is that we aren’t really hiring anyone to cut, edge or keep up with the lawns on the properties Cross and Crown owns. The serious portion is that every spring and summer, whenever the grass and weeds start to sprout up, we have an additional responsibility to keep up with several lawns.

Ron and I are generally pretty capable of knocking out the yards at Cross and Crown, Rock Island and the apartments across from the mission. But, in the last couple years through the, “Rebuilding the Walls”, program (which is currently on hold) we have acquired 4 new properties. As we all know, each property represents a front and back yard, which also represents a new opportunity! Also, we have several neighborhood friends, one which just happens to be a widow (James 1:27 anyone?), that either aren’t physically capable of mowing or don’t have the resources to cut their yard.

Especially during the summer, because many volunteers are either students or have children that are school age, there tends to be a increase in willingness and ability to help out at Cross and Crown and Rock Island. Well, if that’s you or even if that isn’t you but you still desire to help out join the Cross and Crown Lawn Maintenance Team, aka, C&C-LMT. This also serves as a great way to knock out required volunteer hours for students and/or those who have to do community service.


By the way, Thursday is not the only day we need this kind of help. If you or someone you know decided to help out with this need it can be done any day and any time of day. It’s not restricted to just when we are cutting the lawns.

Email me at lwhitmire1@gmail.com or leave a comment on the blog if you’re interested in helping or have questions.

Above is a picture of the C&CLMT team leader, Clyde…

Luke