EPHRATA, Pa. — Many children who were part of the summer day camp at Calvary Community Church, Hampton, Va., were excited to learn about earning interest on their money. They began begging their parents to open saving accounts for them.
This kind of success story puts a smile on the face of Eboni Gibson, 22, of Hampton. An accounting student at Virginia State University, this summer she taught children about accounting, tithing and the importance of handling money well.
As she worked with the children, Gibson was developing her leadership skills – the goal of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S.’ Summer Service Worker (SSW) program.
This program enables young people of diverse backgrounds to serve their home communities through a church or other agency. Gibson, who attends Calvary Community Church, was one of nine SSW program participants who served with MCC East Coast this summer and one of 31 participants nationwide.
In addition to teaching, one of Gibson’s favorite parts of the summer was setting up a new system of payment for next summer’s camp that will be used to determine daily rates for campers. She also enjoyed finding ways for the eight-week camp to be as affordable as possible for parents.
“It’s a joy to come to work every day,” Gibson said.
Mentors played an important part in Gibson’s learning experience and that of all participants in the SSW program.
“We are mentoring Eboni on accounting principles and what it means to work for a church organization,” saidKenyetta Twine, human resource director for Calvary Community Church and Christian Academy, the school associated with the church.
“We are also working with her to learn much about what it means to work in a very structured environment,” Twine said. “Having to write a proposal about this assignment was very productive and is helping Eboni to build upon her schooling.”
The Rev. Flinn Ranchod, pastor of a sister congregation and a member of the MCC East Coast board, sees first hand the effects this assignment is having on Gibson. He was often at Calvary Church because he helped the day camp with transportation.
Gibson gets out of her car, “bouncing and ready to conquer the day,” he said.
He also noted that this experience — developing customer service skills, working with parents, setting up a new system for camp finances, teaching, working with variety of staff and teachers — is preparing Gibson for her future.
Gibson returns to Virginia State in the fall, better equipped for what is next in her life and with valuable leadership skills developed in her home congregation. The next generation of church leaders is bound to include many of the MCC East Coast SSW alumni.
Summary: MCC U.S.’ Summer Service Worker program is a short-term, leadership development program for young adult constituents between the ages of 18-30 who are from diverse ethnic backgrounds, such as African/African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Native American.
Constituent churches and related organizations create and submit proposals to MCC about the kind of leadership engagement they expect a young adult to use in their home church or community during six to 10 weeks in the summer.
Larry Guengerich is communications coordinator for MCC East Coast.