In 2007, volunteers from Redemption Lutheran and Rhawnhurst Presbyterian in the Northeast began listening to the Spirit and the community’s longings for a safe place to welcome neighborhood youth. After much prayer, planning and fundraising, Rhawnhurst Turning Point officially opened its doors in 2011. The center gets support from the Synod, ELCA and the Presbytery of Philadelphia.
Turning Point’s storefront on Castor Avenue is a haven for local youth who work on homework with mentors, participate in free art, culture and performance classes, and serve their neighbors. Over four years Turning Point has served 175 youth, with 22 new repeat visitors in 2013-14. Participants build community in a safe environment with caring volunteers, many of whom are young adults living out their faith in ways they can’t in church. We visited with Director Cheryl Lafferty to find out how things are going:
What are you most excited about at Turning Point?
The variety of art classes we have now and coming up in the fall. Our Hoffman Art Program Manager, Dawn, has been working very hard to do some new things as well as keep around the old things the kids really like.
I’m really excited that the weekend program has gotten some traction and its director, Andrew, really has a vision. We went from having one service day a month to two. And we started a “Star Wars” Bible study on Saturdays.
I love that we have all of these different outlets so that a youth can explore different activities, and find what they are passionate about and where they feel they fit in.
Where do you see God at work in Turning Point?
In the relationships. God is making connections, growing self-confidence in kids, and helping them to find trusted mentors in the volunteers. They now have a network of peers that is committed to making good choices. Fostering healthy relationships and helping kids to grow in knowledge of themselves and others, those are the God moments.
What do you have to share or teach with other ministries?
The model of how this started is important to share… not that you can transplant it, but to talk about how we started: It was from the ground up, it was many voices all expressing the same hopes, and it was grounded in a prayer group that continues to meet. There was a lot of intentional waiting and prayerfulness in starting this. So our story is really important, even if there is one piece that helps someone else get started on his or her idea.
What is the one word that sums up what is happening at TP these days?
Action. It feels like we are in perpetual motion, in a good way.
– Interview by Bob Fisher
– See more at: http://ministrylink.org/article/turning-point-makes-connections/#sthash.3xHJXbTI.dpuf