The Canby Center has a partnership with Ackerman Academy to impact young lives through mentorship. Last year, there was a need for volunteer piano and vocal mentors. One of our volunteers, Darlene Kenagy, has a passion and gift for that very thing. Although she was a little apprehensive regarding the unconventional school setting, she volunteered to teach a class last spring.
She loved her class and was drawn to one student in particular, McKayla. She was extremely talented but seemed sad, insecure and to be hurting inside. McKayla was struggling with family issues making her feel hopeless and fearful of the future. Darlene knew God had a plan for her and she wanted so badly for her to know His unfailing love!
The budding friendship led to additional music lessons at TCC. Eventually, it became spending time together and talk about life and music. What has happened between the two, by God’s guidance and grace, is a beautiful friendship.
They were introduced with perfect timing which is so often how we see God’s hand at work. Darlene became not only a teacher but a supporter, encourager and biggest fan. McKayla gave Darlene the privilege of seeing a young lady come out of her shell and growing to become more secure and happy. The friendship wasn’t without hard work to build trust and confidence in each other but it was special from the start. Over time, McKayla has found more confidence and joy in her God-given talents and abilities. She is finding her way to God as her Rock and Refuge.
McKayla shared, “The Canby Center and Darlene mean so much to me. I honestly don’t know where I’d be right now without you all.”
The story doesn’t stop there. Darlene shared with TCC one of McKayla’s other passions: baking and making pastries. With this knowledge another opportunity was presented to McKayla allowing her to explore her talents with Teresa Sasse at Puddin’ River Chocolates. She was offered an internship which led to her becoming employed. Teresa said, “It was her work ethic and innate ability to know what needed to be done even before being asked.” She now works with a whole group of women who love, support and encourage her too!
These days she has newfound hope and optimism for what her future may hold. She will be graduating from High School this spring and aspiring to attend Culinary School to become a Pastry Chef.
All three ladies summed it up by saying, “Take a chance. Reach out. Open yourself up to possibilities. You truly NEVER know what may happen!”
Friendships and change don’t happen without risk. Our greatest investment is in people. It is giving a warm and tender hand to those who lie in the shadows of our community. Sharing a belief in their God given gifts and talents and saying, “I believe in you!” Thank you Darlene, McKayla, and Teresa for teaching us all to believe in others and take a chance!
Matt’s family has battled poverty for many years. He struggled to stay in school. He lived in a constant state of food insecurity. Family members were constantly moving in and out of his home. This led him to not always knowing where he would lay his head at night. Couch surfing from friend to friend became a way of life. The barriers in his life were numerous and difficult for anyone to overcome.
But for Matt he was not alone on his journey. A group of adults at The Canby Center knew that he needed stability. They helped with food, school work, clothing, conversation, and eventually led him to entering the Job Corps program. The greatest thing they have provided is a belief that he could overcome all barriers and achieve his dreams!
This Christmas Matt is around The Canby Center while he is on winter break from Job Corps. He has brought us the greatest gift imaginable; to see a young man beginning to see his dreams fulfilled and the barriers are beginning to be in the rearview mirror. He is full of life, healthy and beaming with confidence. This long two year journey is not over, but the most difficult aspects seem to be behind him. His future is bright with career training and a GED. He is flourishing in life! What a beautiful gift being given to all that have poured into his life.
“Can The Canby Center help us with Jeremy and his son,” questioned Kevin, a deacon at Bethany Church. Jeremy and his son were homeless and needed help getting back on their feet. A new job provided him hope, but months of unemployment left him reaching out for help. Kevin and Bethany Church had already taken steps to help secure a warm, dry place until a home for this family was secured. “I felt the Lord was asking us as the church to step up and help him by providing housing that would be safe and warm,” Kevin explained.
Quickly TCC assembled a partnership with Bethany Church, Zion Worship Center, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, and Love INC to help. Jeremy and his son now have a place to call home. Along the way, new friendships were formed and he found a safety net to help in his time of need.
After seeing the support this family received by all, Kevin said, “They have been blessed by the many resources in the Canby area that provided them with housing, food, gas, furniture & clothing. What a blessing to see the Church working as one to get the job done for this family.”
Rosa and Natanael
“Before their help my test would not go well. With their help I am now passing,” explained Natanael. Natanael and his sister, Rosa, receive tutoring from two TCC volunteer tutors, Earl Swigert and Norm Church. Every Tuesday and Thursday you find them diligently working on their homework.
When asked about her tutors Rosa said, “They are real cool, smart, and quickly added funny.” Earl said of Rosa, “She is very curious and so we have lots of discussions about our families and what kind of things we like. She likes to keep up on what my children and grandchildren are doing.” The one guaranteed thing every session is lots of laughter. What has blossomed is a friendship that goes beyond homework.
The changes being made is noticed by their teachers. “My teacher asked the other day how it feels to be passing the tests, “explained Natanael.