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Our 2019-2020 Agape Project is...

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

When I was a 9 years old, my parents built a house out in the country side. I remember jumping out of the 2nd story bedroom floor when the house was just framed in. I remember watching my dad operate a tractor to put in a driveway and spread dirt around the house to put in a yard. Later, I remember being taught by my dad how to change the oil in a car, how to use different tools and what different tools were called. We grew up riding motorcycles around our rural neighborhood, working on farms, going on vacations most summers, and hanging out with our parents doing different things. My mom taught me how to do the laundry, properly iron a shirt, and fix a basic meal. My dad taught me how to drive and mow the lawn on an old farm tractor we had before I was even old enough to drive a car. I had a steady home with lots of experiences not to mention help with my homework and accountability to complete it. Looking back, all of those experiences helped me learn, helped me develop interests I may never have even known about and helped me develop socially and emotionally.

I know not every person has fond memories like these and some are more privileged than others. St. Mark Youth Enrichment knows this too.

For the past 30 years, St. Mark Youth Enrichment has provided innovative programs and services that cultivate the educational & social-emotional growth of youth and families. They help students develop academically, socially and emotionally.

We’re excited to announce that Hope Church will be partnering with St. Mark Youth Enrichment for the 2019/2020 school year for our Agape Project! As a church body, we hope to be able to do things like:

  • Provide meaningful assistance to help meet tangible needs for things like supplies, clothing, etc.

  • Come along side St. Mark staff to encourage and appreciate them for all they do

  • Volunteer in concrete ways, both with the staff and in the schools, alongside staff and children during their programming

  • Assist them financially to help with things they need as an organization

  • Cover them in prayer throughout the year

St. Mark Youth Enrichment serves nearly 600 students around Dubuque County through its before and after school programming, summer academy, school supply efforts and other offerings. They serve 4 Dubuque schools (Audubon, Lincoln, Marshall, Fulton), 2 in Western Dubuque and Seton Catholic School in Peosta. 5 of the 7 schools they serve are Title I schools which are identified as having a high number of students from low-income families.

They are impacting lives one day at a time by creating relationships with youth and families to assist educationally, but also socially and emotionally. Here is a story shared by one of the staff from their 2017/2018 Local Evaluation …

“A new to St. Mark 1st grade student experienced a very traumatic event over the summer. Site staff observed him shutting down during program more and more, until it became a huge struggle for him to participate. Each day he entered the gym, refused snack, asked to call his mom so he could walk home, and then sat by himself away from the other students until he was allowed to walk home. I tried to call his mother several times, but she did not return my calls. One day she answered the phone, and almost hung up on me. She sounded so incredibly worn out and defeated, and she did not want to hear that her son was having behavior issues during program. She reported that he was struggling during the school day, as well, and told me about the trauma he experienced over the summer. She stated that she did not want him walking home to an empty house and being alone with his thoughts, that was why she needed him to be in program. I assured her that we would work to help him feel safe and invite him to come out of his shell and participate as he felt comfortable. I discussed with his site staff that he was struggling, and they agreed that he was shutting down more and more. They were “all in” with coming up with ways to connect with him and help him feel comfortable. Within just a week, he was eating snack with the other students, and not asking to call his mom. Last week he did not ask to walk home at all. When his mom got home from work and he wasn’t there, she went to the school to pick him up. She was happily surprised when he asked to stay until the end of program because he was enjoying the activity he was doing with his friends!”

Dawn Cogan, Executive Director of St. Mark Youth Enrichment and Hope Church attendee said, “If you want to figure out how to end poverty, then you have to make sure that people have hope and that they have a community that they can count on.”

As the body of Christ, Hope Church will have the opportunity to be part of helping people have hope and a community they can count on!

Starting the weekend of June 1st and 2nd, we’ll be announcing our first step in this partnership. Stay tuned for ways you can join us!

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