A House on Beekman provides a seamless series of holistic programs from birth to adulthood that empowers our neighbors in the South Bronx to create long-term change to break the cycles of poverty through incarnational relationships.
Mommy and Me
In all of our recent research, we’ve found parenting to be the single most important factor in closing the poverty gap. Because we also know that a child’s brain develops faster in the first three years of their life than any other time we’ve created a program called Mommy & Me to serve and encourage moms and their babies during this critical time. Through Mommy & Me, moms are both being equipped to take ownership of their child’s growth and development, and empowered in their role as a mother; we lead our fearless group of a dozen in singing, playing, reading and learning together – concepts otherwise new and groundbreaking to our moms. When our moms first began, they each admitted that reading to their babies was not a part of their regular home life. Now, just one year later, 100% of them regularly read to their babies in their own homes. Mommy and Me meets twice a week, and consists of mentorship, story and music time, and age-specific learning stations.
A House on Beekman’s after-school program is designed to cultivate progressive learning through a culture of home and family. We are working to transform our children’s understanding of education from a stagnant program confined to the four walls of their school building, controlled by a teacher, to an ever-evolving adventure that happens at home, on the playground, at the grocery store, with family and friends, siblings and neighbors, blossoming from genuine moments of curiosity and playfulness.
Five days a week, each ‘after-school parent’ picks up their ‘family’ of children from school. We begin our afternoon with free play at the local park, allowing all 30 children time to run, laugh, play and decompress from their school day. Each family then retreats home to our after-school house for a healthy snack, homework time and passion-pursuit. Each day our students are given the freedom to explore and discover new passions; they spend this time completing science experiments, creating art, acting out stories, building machines, dancing their hearts out and so much more. Most of our children have never before been exposed to these extra-curriculars. In the spring of 2013, each child will have chosen something new they’ve found themselves particularly passionate about and will be enabled to pursue an independent project based on that interest. We imagine we will have a 4th grade girl plant a community garden on our roof, a 2nd grade boy put together an art gallery of his own work for the neighborhood, and a couple 6th grade friends hosting a three-course meal for the community.
To round out the day, all families join together for regular bible study and worship; then followed by family dinner – specific to their group and room, seated around a central dinner table.
Our program is meant to extend past our children, to their homes, their families, their neighborhood. Parents join us regularly to volunteer – whether to provide homework help or to cook dinner, to spend time on-site with their children or to simply sit with us in community around our dinner table. Our after school program is held every-day, working actively to break the educational cycle of poverty that has enslaved the South Bronx for generations.
Discipleship empowers our mentor-mentees to grow in vulnerable honesty through one-on-one relationship, while seeking truth through Scripture and speaking that same truth into life. After many regular weeks of one-on-one discipleship, the students begin to join together in group discipleship to learn of spiritual community – often similar to age-specific youth group, local community church or weekly bible studies.
Currently, our discipleship relationships range from outright skepticism to lives surrendered at the feet of Jesus. We believe it is through discipleship that Christ is building His Church in the South Bronx – not through brick nor mortar, but through the regular making of disciples.
For four weeks, one hundred children from the South Bronx read daily, think creatively, eat healthily – consistently, explore new places, worship fiercely, serve humbly and learn – often for the first time – the saving grace of Jesus at A House on Beekman Summer Camp. Our camp is run by a diverse group including college interns, out-of-town mission teams, teenagers from our neighborhood and local New York families.