It has been about 5 years now since I first was invited to attend a Pancake Saturday. I remember being so nervous and having no idea what to expect. When we got their I helped with coffee and walk down the lines and ask if anyone wanted coffee while they waited. That morning I remember my heart breaking and still to this day it has not been able to be put back together quite the same way.
That morning was the first time I actually realized children live in poverty in the United States too. I grew up taking clothes to Mexico with my family, as well as serving dinner to people on the streets, but I never really put two and two together. Heck, my family spend a few months raising money for my sister’s friend whose family of four was homeless! My mom and all of us raised money to buy an RV to live in. I do not know why, but even that family who lived in their van didn’t open my eyes to the real poverty these kids in the United States face. I was serving coffee to people who had children sitting in the dirt in between their legs. I was trying to get little girls with ratted hair and dirty fingernails to smile and say hi back to me. I was broken in a way I never had been broken before and I did not know how to handle it. Taking a cue from the lessons my mom had taught me as she served the people while I was growing up, I had to focus on one person at a time. My mom had a way of taking her broken heart for a whole community and narrowing her sights on one specific person or family at a time. What I didn’t know at the time was I was going to subconsciously follow her footsteps and narrow my sights on one family as well.
My mind was consumed for years trying to come up with ways to create lasting change in the lives of these children. Last year I wrote a post about a girl named Rebecca (I will link it below) and this post tells the story of how my family tried to help her and her family get Rebecca a private education. Like I said earlier in this post, I simply tried to follow my mom’s footsteps and because I had no idea what I was doing, asked her to help me get this family off the street and get the girl a good education. We did everything we could-from calling in a favor with my wonderful old superintendent Mr. Leslie (who at the time moved schools to the Rock Academy), to asking my friends and family to help fund her tuition, to all the things I write about in the other post. Unfortunately as the other post also talks about, this ended up failing and she had to be transferred to a school that was academically worse than the one she started at. It took awhile for me to recover from this. I was a bright eyed 19 year old who just realized the struggles of life are not as easy to fix as I thought.
Fast forward a few years and Pancake Peeps had became an official nonprofit (called Sawubona) and had a amazing core of volunteers who believed in our mission and vision. With all of this change though, I still had a broken heart for these children, but no next steps for how to help them. After years of considering what the right steps of action are, my sister and I had a brain break through after a conversation we had with a friend. Both my sister and I are in education and we understand the value of a good education being as we received great educations from kindergarten through our time at the University of San Diego. We have the resources to help children with their most basic and life changing need. We realized we were trying to reinvent the wheel, when what we really needed to do was focus on what we were already good at! Thus Rebecca’s Chance was born.
Although Rebecca’s Chance was not literally born in this moment, the concept and dream were born and honestly, that’s kind of the most important part. We had the concept, the skill to make it happen, and the people to help us make this dream a reality. All we needed was a place to iron it out and get started.
When the opportunity to start our program at the Monarch school presented itself, my mom, sister, and I all sat down and spoke about how we could possibly start a second program. My mom has taken a huge role in running Pancake Peeps and the overall structure of Sawubona, my sister has become a huge asset in gaining volunteer help our operations, and I as President have worked on the logistics of Sawubona and oversee all our operations. It seemed impossible, but the Lord (in his fashion) opened our eyes and provided a way.
I am going to let my sister write about the program itself being as we decided she will act as the Director of Rebecca’s Chance. Her heart and vision for children is so evident and when we were deciding how we could run two programs it was extremely clear that my sister’s leadership skills and background as an educator would make her the perfect candidate. Because she is still a student at USD and has a lot of influence amongst different groups- including the athletic department- we trust that the Lord will provide our newest friends at the Monarch School the proper mentors through this program.
I know my sister is going to be writing about the program, but I wanted to give a little insight on how our program started. This program is a literal prayer answered. It is a manifestation of a dream and prayer my deepest heart wanted, but my brain did not know how to ask for. The Lord is so good in the way He works. The steps that had to be taken to get this program running could not have been planned. “The Lord works ALL things for the good of those who love and trust Him”. This was not only true when Paul wrote Romans (8:28), but they it is true now.
Keep an eye out for our Vlog coming out in the next few weeks that explain it all more logistically!
Like always, I love you all.