When she’s not meeting one-on-one with the teens at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC), you can usually find Stephannie in the kitchen in the cooking class (which the teens LOVE) she’s developed over the past several years. Just recently, they made jerk chicken and callaloo. YUM!
There are often new kids from week to week, and that was the case during this particular lesson. Libby, one of the new girls, was bright, very helpful, attentive, and participated well. Toward the end of the class, Stephannie did a quick review of one of the things she taught them about jerk seasoning (that it is a preservative) and Libby was the only one who got it correct, so Stephannie gave her some chocolate. Stephannie noted, “I gave them all chocolate, but I celebrated her for a moment.”
As the kids ate, as per usual, Stephannie told them why they do that class – because they are worth the time, effort, money, and attention, and that we love them because God loves them first, and then she prayed over them.
As the kids were getting ready to leave, Amy and Susie came up to Stephanie to give her a hug, which they always do. A few moments later, Libby came up to hug her. Stephannie said, “It was a significant moment, and it felt like she really needed it. So I held her for a moment, and told her I’d be praying for her as she goes through her week and prepares for court on Thursday. I told her to remember her worth—that she is worthy of respect, attention, and love, and that she needed to apply that to herself also. She gave me a look and I felt like she really received it.”
“I think that there is so much busyness in what we do, that sometimes it’s easy to assume that the kids are all ok and just coasting. Taking the extra moment with her felt like it made a difference.”
Young people on Long Island need caring adults who will step up as mentors. Caring adults who love the Lord and are willing to sow into their lives just as others have poured into their own.