How long have you been serving with BridgeBuilders?
I began serving in 2008, on Saturdays in Velma Mitchell's garage where she was leading a Bible study for kids. I was in college at the time and would come to Dallas with Michael [Fechner, Jr.], my boyfriend at the time and now husband, every few weeks and help. Today, I serve every afternoon in the After-School program and in the Girls on the Run program. In May, I will have been volunteering for 10 years.
How did you get involved?
I started coming with Michael and his family and kept coming as much as I could. Welcome to being a Fechner!
How are you connecting your love of running/children with South Dallas?
Running is one of my favorite things to do so it's easy to share with the kids. I think there are so many lessons to be learned from running that all kids can benefit from; discipline, self-control, perseverance, teamwork, and encouragement. I was already in love with the kids and wanted to be able to do something together that was making an impact on all areas of their lives.
What's your favorite part about serving in this community?
My favorite part about serving in Bonton is the friendships I have made and the changes I see in so many kids, but also in myself. I love spending time with the kids, loving on them, and watching them grow. Each kid is special and sweet in their own way and I love getting to know them and being a part of their journey. It is also an amazing thing to watch a child learn to do something for themselves and gain intrinsic reward for working hard and not giving up!
What makes you continue to come down here on the "hard days"?
Smiles, hugs, and love. Even on the hard days, those are in abundance. Also, it teaches me more about how Christ loves me. Sometimes I am stubborn and tired and having a rough day and God never gives up on me. It is helping me learn the depth of His love for me to never give up on these kids, even when they are stubborn and tired and having a rough day. Also, I have learned to look for progress, not perfection, especially in their homework and academic struggles. I can always choose to find something good about each child, every day, because they are always growing—just like me.
Any particular life-change you have witnessed in the girls?
In terms of academics, I have seen them grow to love learning and really seek to understand what they are learning. In terms of running, I have seen them learn to push themselves even when it is hard. I have seen them learn to encourage others and praise others when they need it most. I have seen them learn to choose their friends wisely and make better choices in their social lives and become more kind and tenderhearted. I have seen them become leaders in their schools and their social lives. I have also seen so many girls learn to love running, as they feel physically strong and also strong in so many other areas as they take these lessons learned from running into their everyday lives.
Want to "Be the Bridge?"
This is one of our largest areas of opportunity for those looking to volunteer in Bonton on weekdays between the hours of 3-6 pm. These precious children are quick to respond to the loving attention that our volunteers offer, and the impact of our volunteers is enormous in the lives of these children. Gather a car-load, come down once-a-week or twice-a-month; go to dinner afterward in Deep Ellum while the traffic clears and make it part of your routine. You won’t regret it!
If you would like to serve in our After-School program, fill out the volunteer form here and someone will contact you to discuss next steps.