The month of March for me began with a short run along the bluffs in
Carp, where springtime was in the air with daisies and other wildflowers in
bloom all around. It’s a gorgeous time of year which reminds us of two things
in particular: first, that new life is always possible, and second, that the
seasons of our lives are always changing. Each of these reminders pertains
to our work in Carpinteria. We have gone from a blank whiteboard in a co-
working space in Santa Barbara one year ago, to an impacted outreach
ministry, backed with doctoral research, an amazing leadership team and a
starter facility in downtown Carpinteria, today. We are beginning to see new
expressions of energy and optimism by the community at large. Most
importantly, we are seeing the kids who work with us truly discover a new
passion, a developing sense of purpose, and a place they want to be present
during the afterschool hours.
The big question is one of expansion. The model wants to grow, but what is
the wisest approach? Do we seek to replicate our program in other
communities with local partners? Do we consider how the model might
provide a new lens for local churches to serve communities? Or do we
broaden our offerings in Carpinteria, keeping the entire ministry local? Or do
we pursue higher-level work on a societal issue? For instance, now that we
are working with survivors of commercial sexual exploitation, we are enraged
and motivated to posture ourselves to be part of the fighting this problem on
a larger scale and in collaboration with other agencies. These questions are
blessings to be given, and they are serious questions with real consequences,
so we intend to steward them well and wisely. In the meantime, what is most
important is to continue developing and establishing this ministry in Carpinteria
as a long-term sustainable ministry that serves Carp youth. And we are on
that road, by God’s grace.
We need your support in prayer, encouragement, connection, and even
monetarily (if you are interested in supporting us, you can click the button below) as we seek to expand. I am so grateful for all who continue to join
us in this work. Easter is coming, and the dawn of a new day will remind us
that one day all our suffering and the suffering of the kids with whom we
serve, will be laid to rest in the restoring presence of the Resurrected One,
who turns our mourning into dancing.
Every Monday-Thursday afternoon, around 3:15, groups of students spill out of the old blue van and the cars that brought them to our space on Linden Ave in downtown Carpinteria. After initial greetings, hanging backpacks, and a quick look around the shop, students head out to the side lot where the grill is cooking for a bite to eat and some instructions on what the afternoon holds. After getting those instructions, it's time to get to work. That work might include learning to make candles, soap, jewelry, or dog toys. It might be learning to design cutting boards or journals or sanding and staining wood. It might also be finishing products to get ready to sell in Coastland. The youth who participate in our Pathways program are learning the skills needed to create products, while learnign to run a business, and earning the profits from the sales of their products.
We are incredibly excited about Pathways and our Coastland store. The response from students and the community has been overwhelmingly supportive. We truly believe that we are onto something with Pathways and are looking forward to serving the youth of Carpinteria even more. Over the past few months, we have maxed out our space and the number of students we can serve. This is both a blessing and a challenge. While we wait for what will become our new space to be redeveloped, we continue to get creative with ways to maximize the space we have to be able to serve the most students possible.
If you don't live locally and cannot stop by Coastland to see all the products that our students have made, you can visit us online by clicking the button below.
Xochitl and Diego are sealing engraved cork coasters.
Ari, Omar, and Sol are sanding wood for the laser engraver.
Eduardo and Ian are working on new hat designs.
Kaia receiving some mentoring on craftsmanship.
Mitzi and Ari completing the boxes for their coaster sets
The Pro Deo Foundation has frequent conversations about how we plan for our future. We are incredibly grateful and blessed to have come this far, but we believe that God has more in store for us. Here are a few things we working on or thinking about:
1. Working with a program that serves developmental disabled students to package and sell locally roasted coffee in our shop.
2. Expanding into middle school by providing their after school program with opportunities to learn the same skills and craftsmanship that our high school aged youth are learning.
3. Summer programming, including regular production hours and a possible day camp for middle school students to experience Pathways.
4. Finding business mentors who can help strengthen the business training side of Pathways.
5. Providing services (tutoring, financial literacy, college application support, counseling) that will help students and families flourish.
We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but we also have a few things we are working on that we aren't ready to share yet, but we will when the time is right.
The Pro Deo Foundation is a registered 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. EIN 82-5061541