April Deverwaere // Youth Director // STUDENT MINISTRY
I had the privileged to have led a trip to Milwaukee June 8-14. I am privileged because I saw two sets of lives transformed. Those that traveled and worked alongside me and those that we were able to minister to. The first thing that you might need to know is why we chose Milwaukee. It is one of the most segregated cities in the nation and they are experiencing what is called “white-flight.” Meaning, white people are moving out of the city and into the suburbs. As they move out, they take the jobs with them. The median household income is $35,921 (compared to the QC at $51,678). The unemployment rate of African American men is over 50%. Less than 60% of students graduate high school on time. Over 2/3 of infants born in Milwaukee are born to single mothers and Milwaukee has one of the highest infant death rates in the world. We had the chance to work at three different sites. Adullam, Woodlands and Frank’s Garage. Adullam is a 30,000 square food warehouse that they are transforming into a clothing/appliance closet, worship space, fitnesscenter, housing and showering facility and microbusinesses. The Woodlands is a an apartment complex community so plagued with gang violence that they have armed security guards at all times and FBI gang task force members living on site. Frank’s was a place where we were building a garage to help a member of the community.
I watched girls pick up hammers, cut drywall and hang it, too. Guys were getting their hands dirty framing walls and hauling furniture. One of the highlights of the trip was at Adullam, they open their clothing/appliance closet for 1 hour each week: Thursdays 12-1. When we arrived at the site on Thursday at 8 AM, there was a line around the building. In that hour, over 60 mattresses walked out the door giving children places to rest their heads, dozens of dressers, nightstands, clothing, shoes, whatever you can think of. In that hour, we heard stories of how Adullam was changing lives, how the work we were doing would impact hundreds, how they were changing the people’s outlook on life. Our students got to be a part of that.
The rooms we built were for transitional housing. Meaning, homeless people would have an address and a bed as they transitioned to having a real home. I had the chance to sit with students as they cried about how many children they met didn’t have beds and that the rooms they were building would help people for years to come. Their work changed lives, and their lives were changed.