Radiant Church

20140506-DSC_7611Today we celebrate the work of Radiant Church. An emerging faith based partner with CIS, Radiant was honored this past May at the seventh annual Champ Celebration. CIS Board Member Dr. Randall Eberts along with Jen DeWaele, CIS Site Coordinator at Woodward School for Technology and Research, presented the award.

When volunteers from Radiant Church plan on giving, they think BIG…so big that their BIG Give Winterfest at Edison Environmental Science Academy involved over 250 volunteers who created a special holiday experience for the elementary students. The centerpiece of the event was a free shopping spree that gave every student a new winter coat, hat, boots, and gloves. No detail was left to chance.

The night before the event, a semi-trailer truck full of merchandise and department store racks pulled up to the school. Volunteers literally decked the halls, creating a winter wonderland to greet the students the next morning. They transformed the gym into a department store with separate sections for boys and girls. Each child was assigned a personal shopper to assist them with finding just the right winter wardrobe. At lunchtime, students were treated to pizza and holiday songs. The teachers were not left out. They enjoyed a special lunch and each received a holiday gift bag. Every child left school that day with a shopping bag filled with beautiful winterwear. But they left with much more than that—a feeling that despite the polar vortex we all endured this past winter, they were cared for by their community.

100_4402Radiant’s warmth spread beyond the walls of Edison and entered Woodward School for Technology and Research, providing winterwear for many more students. Jen DeWaele, CIS Site Coordinator at Woodward, said “We were simply overwhelmed by the generosity of Radiant Church. They were so genuine, not to mention super organized. In addition to providing coats, boots, hats, and mittens for the students, they cooked a delicious, homemade meal for teachers and staff, welcoming and serving them over the course of the afternoon.”

Radiant Church also helped make sure students got off to a great school year by providing mountains of school supplies. CIS Site Coordinators throughout were able to make sure that all students were able to start the new school year with the tools they needed to be successful.

What Radiant Church provides is more than the material things many of our students need for school success. It is the abundant spirit that their volunteers generously impart to our children that is the true gift.

Radiant Church, we thank you for helping kids stay in school and achieve in life.

 

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If you didn’t get the chance to read the blog post, “A Gift of Warmth for Edison” by Donna Carroll, Director of Health Initiatives for CIS, then do yourself a favor and read it now. It really captures the beautiful work of Radiant Church in our schools.

Champs Among Us

(Left to Right) Ming Li, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, Pam Kingery, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Mayor of Kalamazoo, Bobby Hopewell
(Left to Right) Ming Li, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development, Pam Kingery, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, Mayor of Kalamazoo, Bobby Hopewell

Upon leaving our seventh annual Champ Celebration, held last week at Cityscape, one of our almost 200 guests said, “Everybody in town should experience Champs!”

We agree. Our CIS board and staff had a great time hosting the event and we want to share with everyone what these nine individuals and organizations are doing to help kids stay in school and achieve in life.

So, in the weeks and months to come we’ll introduce you to each of them. You’ll be able to read what our various presenters said about their efforts and thanks to CIS volunteer, Don Kingery, you’ll be able to see what guests saw (and missed!) through his photographic lens.

Dr. Michael F. Rice, Superintendent, Kalamazoo Public Schools
Dr. Michael F. Rice, Superintendent, Kalamazoo Public Schools

And, because we’ve had numerous requests to publish the speech given by our youngest Champ ever—fifth grader Kawyie Cooper—we’ll post her speech next Tuesday. According to Kathy Jennings, editor of Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave, Kawyie “stole the show with her words of what being named a Champ meant to her.” You can read the entire article here. And, if we can convince some of our other Champs to guest blog for us, we’ll publish their reflections here as well.

Today, though, we’ll leave you with a list of our award winners. And then, take a moment to click on the “Dear Kalamazoo” video below that first aired during the event. This video was created because throughout the 19 KPS schools that CIS is currently in, we have a number of grateful students (not to mention parents and teachers) who wanted to take the opportunity to say thanks and give shouts out to their own Champs.

Special thanks to all of our CIS Site Coordinators and CIS Site Team members (Assistant Site Coordinators, Youth Development Workers, VISTAs, and interns) who provide the infrastructure to support the hundreds of marvelous volunteers and community partners who work with Communities In Schools and the Kalamazoo Public Schools to help kids stay in school and achieve in life.

Our 2014 Champs:

Kawyie Cooper, 2014 Champ
Kawyie Cooper, 2014 Champ

Terri Aman, KPS Executive Supervisor for Transportation

RSVP through Senior Services Southwest Michigan, CIS Nonprofit Partner

Jay Gross, KPS Home School Community Liaison, Maple Street Magnet School for the Arts

Consumers Credit Union, CIS Nonprofit Business Partner

Rosalie Novara, CIS Volunteer Tutor, King-Westwood Elementary School

Radiant Church, CIS Emerging Faith-Based Partner

Kawyie Cooper, CIS Student, King-Westwood Elementary School

Carol Steiner, KPS Principal, Parkwood Upjohn Elementary School

And this year’s recipient of the Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award:

Barbara Witzak, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Services for Kalamazoo Public Schools

So, please, keep up with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids to discover the Champ experience. We think you’ll agree it’s not just a one day event!

Carolyn H. Williams, President, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo Board
Carolyn H. Williams, President, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo Board

A Gift Of Warmth For Edison

Donna Carroll, Julie McDonald, Emily Kobza
Donna Carroll, Julie McDonald, Emily Kobza

Today’s lovely post is written by Donna Carroll, Director of Health Initiatives for CIS.

If Edison School looked like a department store last Friday it was not by chance. Over 250 volunteers from the Radiant Church in Richland magically transformed the school on Thursday evening, decorating hallways with giant icicles and candy canes, and transforming the gym into a store with racks filled with clothes, mirrors and tables. They weren’t setting up for a movie shoot, but for the Big Give Winter Fest, an enormously generous giveaway that would allow every Edison child to shop for a warm winter coat, hat, gloves and boots. The only thing missing was the cash register because this shopping experience was paid for by the over $70,000 in donations collected by the congregation at Radiant.

100_4384As individual classes lined up to shop they were entertained by Santa and his elves and could take turns hula hooping to burn off some of their excitement. As each student reached the store they were paired with a personal shopper who assisted them with their selections. Communities In Schools assistant site coordinator Christina Czuhajewski had laid some of the important ground work in the weeks before the event, contacting over 400 parents to fill out cards with the students’ sizes. So the shoppers were able to work from those cards and take the student to a rack filled with coats in the right size. All the student had to do was pick the style and color of his or her choice. Floor length mirrors gave students a chance to try on their coat and see if it was the right one. After the important coat selection had been made it was on to find matching hats, gloves and boots. When all selections were made they were put into large shopping bags for delivery to classrooms.

100_4336Radiant volunteers worked their holiday magic in other areas of the school as well. They provided pizza for students who were treated to holiday songs by a talented duo who got students to join in both words and actions to Rudolph, Frosty and other holiday favorites. Then it was on to the library where classes had hot chocolate and decorated cookies (which quickly disappeared), and then made reindeers from candy canes, pipe cleaners and other supplies. Each station was manned by Radiant volunteers, all wearing their light blue t-shirts and sunny smiles. As one volunteer said, “This is so much fun. Just seeing the smiles on the faces of the students makes it all worth while.”

“The school and teachers are so appreciative” said Principal Julie McDonald. “It’s such a generous gift to our students, to know that they will all have what they need for this cold weather.”

 

 

Monica (left) and Chelsea, just two of the over 200 volunteers from Radiant Church who worked hard to make the Big Give Winter Fest fabulous. Thank you, Radiant Church!
Monica (left) and Chelsea, just two of the over 200 volunteers from Radiant Church who worked hard to make the Big Give Winter Fest fabulous. Thank you, Radiant Church!

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