“I almost talked myself out of it. But something inside me told me to give it a try. I’m so thankful I did! I love my lunch buddy! He talked my ear off every week! Ha ha! Bless his heart, he has a really hard life. He really just needs someone to talk to; someone to care about him. It was a blessing and an honor to be his buddy.”
— Cyndi Daugherty, Chase Oaks 544 Attendee
There is nothing so beautiful as the faith of a child. They look at you with these big eyes and trust you in a way that is unmatched or paralleled anywhere. It is part of the importance of Jesus’ statement that we should become like children in our faith; humble, yes, but also taking God at His word.
For some this is no small task, because as children they never had anyone to look up to. Whether due to a less-than-stable home life, not having people who believed in them, or their own shyness, they never developed the kind of relationships that engendered trust. And so, learning to believe in and trust a God whom they cannot see in a tangible way in which we see the desk we sit at, the phone we check a hundred times a day, or the computer monitor we often stare at, can become a daunting and sometimes impossible task.
How can we change this? What can we do?
“Seriously, when I heard about this program, I thought, ‘Man! I don’t have enough time to do this every single week. They probably have enough volunteers, anyway. And what if I get one of those kids that never opens up to me and I just sit there staring at him/her for 30 minutes each week trying to figure out what in the world to say?’”
There are times in everyone’s life when they need someone to listen. Not to fix them, not to judge them or weigh their actions, but simply listen, creating a safe place for a person to share what it is that they carry inside. They need someone willing to give them a chance. A second chance. A third chance. And sometimes even a fourth chance.
“When someone is interested in who you are and what you are saying, it facilitates feelings of self-worth and when you value yourself, choices begin to change,” shares Joley Martin with the Wylie ISD.
The Wylie ISD has a Lunch Buddy program that helps to pair adults and children of all ages in an effort to give more at-risk youth a better chance to succeed and hope for a better outcome. They are looking for people to volunteer for the new school year to team up with them in reaching out to children who don’t have a positive mentor in their life, that lack an adult who believes in them and can encourage them once a week by spending 30 minutes with them having lunch. And listening.
They say that the best way to change the world and see the change is to start with what is directly around you. Cyndi, who has seen her own life changed as well as that of her lunch buddy, has had this made clear to her in a whole new way.
“It’s opened my eyes to the needs that are right around me. Many needs go unspoken, but if you slow down and look close enough, you can see them. I need to slow down more in my life so I can see what is going on right around me,” shares Cyndi.
It is a blessing to watch a child’s life change and know that you have helped to be an agent of that change by doing nothing more than showing up and being there.
“As I learned about his story and home life, I realized how important it was for me to be a person in his life that he could count on. As I consistently showed up to meet with him, week after week, I began to see a change. At first, I don’t think he thought I would come back, and that’s why he gave me a big hug on the second week. Week after week, he would look for me when he came into the lunch room with anticipation. Would I be there or not? Eventually, he knew I would be there. It was incredible!” exclaimed Cyndi.