• Jeremy Clark

Our God provides in the midst of the storm

As I mentioned in my post last week, this season has been difficult for me personally and yet, I know God is present. We’ve been working to reframe our next season at Cup of Cool Water as we finalize plans for the incredible opportunity ahead of us, that being the launch of our youth job training program in June. This moment has been a long time coming and we are eager to see how God is going to work through it in the lives of our youth.

Establishing our job training program is one of three strategic goals adopted by our Board of Directors about two years ago. It was birthed through a long process that included youth and volunteer input, evaluating our programs, assessing how well we were accomplishing our mission, and working with our partners to identify the most needed programs for youth who are homeless in our community. This long process was followed by tons of research, grant writing, fundraising, a lot of work to develop the program, and countless hours more scrutinizing that work. It has been a long road and we are so thankful for those of you who’ve walked through this process with us over these years.

At first we weren’t sure what type of business would best accomplish the outcomes we wanted our youth to experience. We looked at a variety of options from screen printing, to baking, to manufacturing a product, but ultimately we settled on residential painting. I was a painter in college and I knew that it was a relatively easy to pick up, teaches you how to work on a team, and there’s always work to do. I pitched it to Randy and after a period of time we decided to run with it. Last summer we had the opportunity to paint for people in our community who were gracious enough to be a part of our pilot program. We painted the interior of a house, the exterior of another, a church sanctuary and an office space. We did all this with no additional staff and while running all our other programs. Randy and I were present for these jobs nearly every day. We found out that it could be done, but we learned some very hard lessons in the process.

The youth we worked with were pretty exhausted after our four painting jobs but also expressed feeling empowered by the experience, helping them reconsider their trajectory in life. One of the youth who helped us said that waking up and going to work every day helped him to start to imagine a life where he did that instead of waking up to start drinking every morning.

We also confirmed that, in addition to any staff involvement in the program, we would need a highly skilled painter to run the program. That person would also need to be good with youth and be able to teach. We had some development needs for the program as well. So we wrote up a job description that included all of our needs and when we read through the final version, it seemed hard to believe we would find a person with all of those skill sets – it certainly felt like a needle in the haystack situation. But God provides!

As we began our staff search we had a ton of applicants, but were initially discouraged because most were far from what we envisioned for the program. Patti Malott, one of our longest supporters and volunteers shared the job listing with a young man who grew up with her children. From that point forward it seemed that God had ordained this connection and brought Josh to the ministry through Patti. Not only was Josh a skilled painter, but he’d been successfully running his own business for many years, training and mentoring young men working for him, he had experience in development, and he was feeling God’s pull to get back into ministry. When we interviewed Josh he said that when he read the job description, it felt like it had been written just for him. God continued to provide for the program giving us a van to transport youth, a trailer for our painting equipment, a partnership with our local Sherwin Williams store and so much more. But then came the coronavirus.

When the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” restrictions began, we were so discouraged. We were forced to close the drop-in center and serving our youth became very difficult. To say it’s hard to carry out a relationship-based ministry in the midst of social distancing is an understatement, but we’ve pushed forward nonetheless. But in the midst of social distancing, we found a blessing in disguise. The blessing being the extra time we needed to focus on getting this new program off the ground.

So no we stand on the precipice of launching Cool Water Painters – a social enterprise and program that holds so much empowerment and hope for so many of the youth we serve. We are amazed and incredibly blessed to see how God has provided for this program at every turn and in spite of our doubt.

If you want to know more about Cool Water Painters or the promise it holds for our youth, tune in for our Facebook live stream Wednesday, May 20, at 2pm, when Randy, our Executive Director, will be sharing more about this amazing new program.


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