Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Seeds of Hope: Mission of the Holy Spirit

The last in a series about the recipients of this year's Seeds of Hope Grants to develop and expand social justice ministries in Southern Virginia. Learn more about Seeds of Hope grants here. 

The Mission of the Holy Spirit, Norfolk, was awarded two Seeds of Hope Grants this year. One of the grants will fund the expansion of the very successful "Life is a Choice - Get Smart About Your Health!" program. The other will fund "Building Dreams," a new partnership with Old Dominion University Canterbury students to help members of the Mission succeed in school.

The "Life is a Choice - Get Smart About Your Health!" program presents healthy lifestyle choices to the Mission's children and families. Most programs of the Mission are focused on at-risk youth, but this effort brings in family members so that each family works together to improve their health. The program addresses topics like disease prevention, nutrition and exercise and helps families to make healthier choices.

Seeds of Hope Grant funds will allow the Mission to expand on this already successful program. A ten week program in Spring 2013 will continue to provide health education. A partnership with Old Dominion University nursing students provides one-on-one health assessments, individualized recommendations and encouragement for each participant. The program will add a segment on healthy shopping and cooking on a budget to help steer participants away from processed and fast foods that have little nutritional value. The program will also sponsor a Spring Health Fair at St. Stephen's, Norfolk, inviting Mission families, volunteers and supporters and the community at-large. The fair will provide screenings for blood pressure, vision, asthma and more, along with information about community health services and making healthier lifestyle choices.

The Mission of the Holy Spirit began as a ministry of the Diocese of Southern Virginia in 1993 to address spiritual, physical, emotional and educational needs of inner city "at risk" youth in the Norfolk area. For many participants, the Mission has provided the first, and perhaps only, opportunity to hear and experience the Good News of Jesus Christ. A Sunday worship service and dinner have been the core activity of the Mission as well as regularly schedule weekday activities. Most participants suffer from socio-economic related health issues such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and poor nutrition. The "Life is a Choice" program will encourage exercise, an active lifestyle, good nutrition, disease prevention, and an understanding of why good health is so important.

The second Seeds of Hope Grant project is "Building Dreams," a new partnership with the Canterbury Center at Old Dominion University. For younger members of the Mission, the program will focus on reading, elementary level skills and completion of homework. Older members will receive coaching in the skills necessary to be successful in school. The program will be presented one evening each week and will include a nutritious dinner.

When the Mission was started, few of the participants had much hope of graduating from high school. In June 2012, six members graduated from high school and five of them are now attending college. Several other members are starting their second or third year in college. By incorporating the skills and dedication of the Canterbury Center students with a planned tutoring program, the Mission hopes to encourage more youth to seek success in education.

You can learn more about the Mission of the Holy Spirit at www.missionoftheholyspirit.org,
or like them on Facebook (MissionOfTheHolySpirit).