There are several motels, trailer parks, and apartments in Redding where families live and struggle to raise their children. At most of these locations there are no parks or after school programs within walking distance and the children have only the parking lot in which to play. Their lives are affected by substance abuse, transiency and unemployment.
But this is changing at many locations. Since August 2007, Eagles Soar Youth Activity Center (ESYAC) has served the families living at various locations. A volunteer staff of teachers, college and high school students, and retirees run an after school and summer program in collaboration with community agencies, private individuals, businesses and churches. A community garden is growing in the empty lot in front of the Capri Motel. The teachers of “ESYAC kids” at Redding Elementary School District, Enterprise Elementary District, Gateway District and Shasta Union High School District know there is someone they can contact to provide academic support when our kids are struggling. Parents get rides from our team members so they can attend teacher conferences and school performances. In the summer time, kids get to leave the motel and head out of town for adventures such as kayaking, berry picking, fishing, gold panning, spelunking, swimming, and more!
We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) under Mosaic Ministries (see History section below). Our Mission is to provide at-risk children and their families the support to succeed and the opportunity to believe through programs of tutoring, mentoring, and adventuring.
for every child…life in all its fullness.
for every heart… the will to make it so. (World Vision)
to provide at-risk children and their families the support to succeed and the opportunity to believe so that they may realize their full, God-given potential through a program of tutoring, mentoring, and adventuring.
♦ to guide each child in realizing his/her unique identity and destiny.
♦ to support the development of communities of believers whose transformed lives enable them to communicate the Gospel in word and deed.
♦ to provide a training ground for volunteers from all churches and backgrounds where we support one another in discovering and developing our unique gifts through which we share the transforming love of God in Christ.
♦ to be an effective model of ministry which can be replicated at other sites throughout Redding and beyond.
♦ the ministry of presence. As our Lord came and dwelt among us so we seek to embody Jesus’ love by joining with these families where they live, working together to meet the spiritual and academic needs of the children and coming alongside the parents with the love and support they need without “enabling” them – the healing power and authority of Christ to transform lives.
♦ community…We are all together in this endeavor as equally precious and unique members of a team who convey His goodness and kind purposes. God’s love inspires us to persevere as a team through disappointments, setbacks and surprises to pursue increasingly effective ministry.
Eagles Soar Youth Activity Center History
In December 2003, the Record Searchlight devoted a section covering the life of a seven year old girl who lived with her family in a single room motel in downtown Redding. God used her story to touch Joanie Griffin’s heart, founder of ESYAC, and to move her into realizing a desire she had for many years—to see the establishment of on-site ministries where at-risk children and their families could receive the support to succeed and the opportunity to believe.
The dream was to see a “Motel Ministry” in which the churches of Redding would reach out to the poor of Redding through the establishment of on-site centers located in motel rooms. There are 7 motels throughout Redding where families who are homeless raise their children. There are no parks within walking distance of these motels and children have only the parking lot to play in. Parents who struggle with substance abuse, mental illness, transience, and unemployment limit their ability to be involved in their children’s education and to provide enriching life experiences. The dream is for these sites to become centers of support where volunteer staff would befriend the parents and provide key elements the children need to succeed–tutoring, mentoring, and adventuring. These volunteers would also serve as liaisons between home and school, helping the families and teachers connect with one another.
In the spring of 2005, God opened the way for this dream to be realized. Mosaic Ministries, a non-profit started by All Saints Episcopal Church and St. James Lutheran Church, welcomed ESYAC into their organization. We joined them as partners in fulfilling their mission–“Following Jesus outside the walls”. Eagles Soar Youth Activity Center (ESYAC) was established. Within a month of being a non-profit we received our first donation —an unsolicited $5,000 to cover our insurance from an anonymous donor.
In addition to Mosaic, two other organizations were key to the birthing of this ministry—Aglow International and Bethel Church. Aglow intercessors prayed for breakthroughs in many instances: from favor with the owner who granted us rooms to use rent free to the rescue of children in crisis. Bethel Church ushered us into relationships with the people. Their volunteers, who had been serving hot lunch at several sites around the city for 7 years, had built bonds of trust and respect with the residents at the California Apartments. Eventually we were accepted by the residents and able to start this ministry.
A multi- church team and Simpson University students now carry on this ministry. Over 70 people from all walks of life and several local businesses have given their time, talent and money to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of those caught in the cycle of poverty.
We have been serving the families at the California Apartments and Capri Motel for over nine years now. Under the leadership of Patti Brent, our Homework Club runs each Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, serving up to 28 kids through a volunteer team who range in age from 16 to 75. Families receive a food delivery weekly from local churches. Many teens have been connected with mentors through “Project 18”. A community garden is growing in the empty lot in front of the Capri Motel. The teachers of “our kids” at local school districts know there is someone they can contact for help. Parents get rides from our team members so that they can attend teacher conferences and school plays. In the summer time kids get to leave the motel and head out for adventures–kayaking, berry picking, fishing, gold panning, spelunking, swimming, etc!
This ministry aims to express the heart of God. Jesus came to our world and dwelt among us. He said, “Peace be with you; as Thou didst send Me into the world I also have sent them (us) into the world.” (John 17:18) This ministry seeks to embody Jesus’ love by joining with these families where they live, offering them the support to succeed and the opportunity to believe through programs of tutoring, mentoring, and adventuring.
Does your heart see another location where Jesus is looking for people to establish a ministry among at-risk kids and their families? We would love to help you discover what God has in mind. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org