Watsonville NETworX is offering an orientation to the “give a hand up, not a handout” program in May, co-sponsored by the California-Nevada Annual Conference and the Capital City CIRCLES Initiative.
Through a 12-16 week training program, NETworX resources individuals to help them develop a personal life plan and chart a course to leave poverty behind. Participants (called Champions) first are helped to assess their own strengths and resources (financial, educational, spiritual, emotional, relational, physical, social, etc.) and identify areas they want to improve. Community volunteers, known as Allies, work alongside the Champions, providing them with tools to set their life goals and helping them overcome obstacles and reach those goals.
The NETworX Orientation will be Friday, May 3, 3:00-8:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 4, 8:30- 11:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Watsonville / Primera Iglesia Metodista Unida de Watsonville. Cost is $25.
The church is located at 229 Stanford Street, Watsonville, CA 95076.
Local housing options are available.
For more information contact Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org, 831-724-4434 (church), or 831-320-0276 (cell).
Good Enough? A Contemplation
By Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson, pastor, First UMC of Watsonville, CA
I had a little taste of the presence of God recently when I met with some youth at one of our Friday night Watsonville NETworX meetings. We were doing a lesson on maintaining a good reputation – which is especially important for teenagers. The reality is that we all want to be liked, admired, and accepted for who we are. How can we have a good reputation and maintain our Christian values? How do we stay true to our faith?
The participants looked at a long list of all the ways their reputations might be described. Do people see me as a clown, a jock, an airhead, or studious? Am I outgoing, shy, or friendly? We all felt we were clumsy, which isn’t too bad I guess, but what about hardworking, generous, or pretty?
We had a vigorous discussion about what can help our reputation, and about who we are, and things that can hurt us. But what surprised me was that two of the young participants described who they are by stating that they are dumb. Straight out dumb. And it broke my heart. One girl said she knew it was true because her older brother told her so, and another confessed she really didn’t understand math very well, so that made her dumb.
Of course, I think otherwise. From my perspective, they were both wonderful, bright young people. So I tried to gently argue them out of thinking these negative thoughts: You may be different, but you’re not dumb. But I’m not sure I convinced them.
Which raises an important question. Have you ever felt that you weren’t good enough for God?
These are the kinds of issues we address in Watsonville NETworX. In my experience, persons in poverty are ashamed of their status. They judge themselves by external measures, such as wealth or status. But we look at things differently here.