The following article was submitted by Eleanor Jacobs from The Neighborhood School and is a part of our Ministry Spotlight Series. If you would like to share an article in our series, please contact Hope.
God’s People Working Together in The Neighborhood School’s Residential Program
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Eph 4:16
Rogelio Duarte was recently praying with our dorm parent and his prayer was for his mother and that all those helping would be used by God to continue to work together to support his mom and his family. Rogelio came to The Neighborhood School (TNS) almost two years ago by the way of Second Presbyterian Church Members.
As a church, Second Presbyterian was helping the Duarte family. Their father had been deported to Mexico. Their mother was not able to continue rent payments on their home and was evicted by the landlord. She desperately needed a place for her 3 sons to live and attend school. 2PC reached out to The Neighborhood School because of our Residential Program, and we welcomed Rogelio and his brothers Jonathan and David with open arms. They began 8th, 7th, and 4th grade with us and their mother participated in residential program activities and came along side us in bible study. Their mother was very committed to her sons, but was going through a hard time.
We had no idea what blessings these boys would bring us. Nor did we know how many lives they would impact. When the boys arrived at TNS they were very quiet and introverted. They also were afraid and wanted to sleep together in the same room (in the photo you see their 3 beds pushed together). Just after a month in school they began raising their hands in class, laughing with friends on the playground, standing taller with more confidence, and soon they decided their oldest brother could move into another room so they’d have more space.
About one year after the boys came to TNS, their mother, Martha, began feeling weak and was taken to a doctor. She learned that she had stage 4 breast cancer. Immediately, the TNS staff contacted people who had become involved with the boys, and efforts were begun to develop a plan of care for Martha and longer term plans for the boys. As a result, arrangements have been made for a home and for hospice care for Martha.
Rogelio had just graduated 8th grade, but we made an exception to let him continue to live on campus and he is now a freshman at Kingsbury High School. Families from 2nd Presbyterian coordinate taking him to school and our dorm staff pick him up, as he lives in the dorm and participates in our Residential Program activities. Rogelio is doing really well, he just represented his high school in a robotics competition in Knoxville, and as an honors student, was selected to go to Nashville for a week of class off-site. He placed in a swim meet last Saturday and will become a member at 2PC this Spring.
Jonathan (an 8th grader at TNS) is active in the youth choir at 2nd, participates in 3 degrees, and goes on missions trip. He’s doing very well in school, won 2nd prize in the Science Fair, recently came in 2nd for his age group in a 5k race, and placed as well in the swim meet. He will become a member at 2PC this Spring.
David’s 4th grade teacher recently said that David had improved so much since first arriving at The Neighborhood School. Having the support of a church community, the dorm parents, dorm staff, other dorm students, and still being close enough to his mom to be near her as she battles cancer has been a huge help for him. David is very involved with Boy Scouts, loves to play soccer and basketball, likes computer games, and is well-liked by his teacher and friends. He’s one of the first to volunteer whenever something needs to be taken care of.. He’s also a great listener. He has a great sense of character, and almost all of the new boys that come into the dorm ask to be his roommate.
The Duarte brothers go home on the weekends so they can visit with their mother. She has been in hospice care and battles a lot of pain. She needs a lot of prayer!! Her mother, Maria, who is a very godly woman, came from Oklahoma to care for her and does a phenomenal job of caring for her 24-7. However, they also spend a good portion of their weekends at church members’ homes, farms or at Boy Scouts campouts.
The leaders of the Scout troop in which the boys in the TNS residential program are members have become increasingly involved in the boys’ lives. Several people who have developed connections with the boys are helping the family with living expenses. Two women from 2PC visit Mrs. Duarte several times each week to pray with her and minister to her needs. Three families have become legal guardians of the boys. The families know the boys from Boy Scouts, church at 2PC, and the school. One family alone didn’t feel they were able to support all 3 boys, however they are all working together to support these wonderful kids
What makes the The Neighborhood School so special is the people behind it–the volunteers, staff and donors. Strong connections are made between our students and their families and the people who support us. It is not unheard of for volunteers and prayer partners to take in students after they graduate TNS and make them a part of their family while they attend high school.
At TNS, we are not only teaching academics and the love of Christ, but we are connecting these children to community members who will love and support them forever. We are building trusting relationships between our students and our volunteers and staff to help guide these children to live productive and happy lives. None of this would be possible without our donors and supporters.
Find Out More:
Eleanor Jacobs eleanorjacobs12[at]yahoo[dot]com