Thank you to all of our donors, sponsors, and partners for supporting Stone of Hope Youth these past years. The COVID 19 pandemic has changed the way we do life as a society. For many families, the pandemic has been a burden to health, careers, and finances. Many have lost loved ones and friends. We pray for all who have struggled this year. On the other hand, many have flourished during the pandemic finding new opportunities to serve and to make an impact in ways never foreseen. During the pandemic, Stone of Hope Youth has been blessed beyond measure. Our team has brainstormed and implemented new ways of reaching our SOHY boys and their families. Thanks to you we have also surpassed our financial goals for 2020. This has been a big blessing as we were able to experiment with new activities for the boys and ways to serve their families because of your giving. We are very grateful to God for you. In our director and board meetings we like to mention that the economy and pandemic is NOT our source but God is. We feel God has put in your heart to give to this great organization and we thank you!
We have changed our elementary mentor platform for this year from in-person, to online ZOOM meetings. As we moved to online we experimented with different ways to organize our meetings so that the boys never lose focus. We decided to begin every online session with fun starters to break the ice, and every week they get a different starter. Our starters have been activities such as online bingo, Scattegories, 2 truths and a lie, Pictionary, and many more. To make these even more engaging, the boys have opportunities to win prizes such as $5 gift cards, puzzles, and more.
During our second portion of our online mentor sessions we focus on life skill scenarios. We focus on topics such as bullying, acceptance, integrity, etc. Most times we will watch an inspirational video and other times we will have a short devotional. We then give the boys and mentors a list of real world engaging questions that pertain to the topic. Our third and final portion of the online mentor session is the one on one ZOOM break out with a mentor. During this time the mentor asks the mentee about their week and how life is going. This break out has proven to be essential as the boys tend to open up better during one on one sessions. During the one on one, the mentor eventually goes over the topic questions with their mentee. Once one on one time is up, we press the button on ZOOM to bring everyone back to the main hub. We always finish by praising each boy and sharing at least one positive from the one on one session. We make sure that every kid feels affirmed and great about themselves after every session.
For our middle school boys, we have been fortunate to be able to meet in person for a large part of the year. During our in-person mentor sessions, we break up the boys in 3 groups and rotate them to 3 different stations. Each station is comprised of 3 leadership activities that focus on the topic of the day such as integrity, honor, listening, etc. From October to January we took a break from in person as the governor mandated that there be no after school programs. This worked in our favor as we utilized our time for visiting our SOHY families at their homes. In October we received a little over $40,000 from the COVID CARES ACT Grant from the government. We were able to help our SOHY families and other families in the West Valley Community with bills, rent, furnaces, groceries, glasses, and much more. This grant came at a perfect time as some families were on the brink of being evicted from their homes. We are happy to say that from October to December we spent all of the $40,000 on families needing assistance. It was a big undertaking but we were grateful for the governors mandate so that we had time to help these great families. God’s timing was perfect as we went back into mentoring soon after.
During the first quarter of 2021 we have been able to run one mini camp and one service project. In March, we took the boys up the mountains for our first Snowshoeing Mini Camp. Snowshoeing was a first for all the boys and most of the mentors. The weather was perfect as the boys got to snowshoe during a light snow storm. It was work getting up the mountain but the boys loved it. The boys learned that to see beauty in things you have to work at it, whether it is relationships or dreams. The positive work you put into it, the greater reward at the end. Once we finally got down the mountain we pulled out the sleds and sledded down the mountain multiple times as we waited on parents to arrive. It was a great time for all! Second quarter we have an Indoor Rock Climbing mini camp lined up.
In March, Stone of Hope Youth began a new long-term service project. The boys built the first SOHY Community Garden. This has been a vision from David, our Director of Mentoring, for a long time. A large number of our boys came and worked wonders. They built a very large garden box and framed the greenhouse for shelves. They learned to till the ground, measure dimensions, work with the drill, and fill pots with soil. They worked extremely hard and were very excited to see the final results. The boys felt good knowing that the produce grown goes directly to their families and that they have a large part in contributing to their household. They also loved consuming the donuts, juice, Gatorade, and pizza during our work.
We have received great news in the past weeks. We will be able to run our FULL SOHY Leadership Camp in June! This is great news as summer camp is the culmination of all the boys have learned during the year. The first three days are filled with fun leadership activities, fishing, canoeing, hiking/ orienteering, tent camping, and self reflection. We also plan a college tour and scavenger hunt at Weber State University as we want to encourage our boys to envision themselves on a college campus. On our final day of summer camp, we have the boys clean the camp grounds and pack, then we leave for a fun filled day at the Lagoon Theme Park.
Just recently we let the boys know that camp is on for this year and they are incredibly excited! Of course, we will keep adhering to CDC COVID guidelines.
We are very excited for the future of Stone of Hope Youth. We could not serve as we do without your support. Please spread the word about the work we are doing. We are always looking for new monthly donors to keep our ministry going strong. You are making a big difference in these undeserved communities with which we work. On behalf of our Stone of Hope Youth team we thank you for being part of the family.
Founder and Executive Director
Stone of Hope Youth