Teaching Teamwork in the Kitchen
May 25, 2023
New to the Grand Rapids area, April was looking for a way to give back. She first heard about Streams through a flyer in the mail promoting our youth summer camp. Later, she saw Streams at an event with one of our partners. Then, someone from Streams came and spoke at her church on a Sunday morning. “I thought, You know, this is the third time,” remembered April. “I’m going to try and volunteer there.”
Sue Harkema, our Education Director, thought April would be a good fit to assist with the SWAG program. SWAG, which stands for Succeeding While Achieving Greatness, teaches middle and high school students life skills in an empowering setting. Sue saw that April had professional baking experience and encouraged her to share that gift with students.
Now, April teaches a baking class at SWAG once or twice a month. The students learn practical skills like measuring ingredients, using kitchen appliances, and baking tips. They also get a chance to practice lifelong skills like following directions, collaboration, and healthy living.
“The students get to be creative,” said April. “I’m always encouraging them to work together to do the baking. They sometimes ask me questions about life. We get an opportunity to talk about things that matter.” Not only has April found a place at Streams, but her two kids have also plugged in. Her son plays basketball at Streams with his friends. Her daughter loves attending GEMS, where she gets to make crafts and make new friends.
“She tells me about the things they learn in GEMS,” said April. “Being special to God, being enough. She’s really sad if she has to miss a night.” At Streams, April recognizes that her children and other students are walking into a safe, supportive environment.
“I lost my mom when I was 9 years old,” said April. “I lost my aunt after she raised us, too. Me and my sister had a rough start to life, and a rough life in general. It’s really important to me to help and mentor kids that have a similar story. I want to show them there’s hope for them.”
If you’re interested in volunteering with Streams, visit streamsgr.org/volunteer.