Embrace Richmond has awarded Chester United Methodist Church with our first Summer 2015 Dream Catcher Grant. As a graduate of the Embrace Richmond Mission Shift training, Chester UMC was eligible for a $500 grant toward their summer Dream Catchers project in Broadwater Townhomes. This grant will be applied toward the cost of training and coaching the Chester Dream Catcher team which includes youth from the Broadwater neighborhood and adult volunteers from Chester UMC.

This summer project launched this week with a pizza party for the youth. Ten high school youth participated and all of them signed up to become Jr. Interns serving through our Dream Catcher listening project.

They will be trained by Embrace Richmond staff for the next two weeks. On June the 23rd, they will be begin interviewing neighborhood residents and discovering the dreams, gifts, and talents of their community alongside volunteers from Chester UMC.

During our pizza party, Essie, our Dream Catcher Coordinator, put the youth into teams and had them build their dream community using Legos, paper, and crayons. It was a fun project that got the young people thinking about the kind of community they wanted to live in. At the conclusion of that activity, Essie explained that the Legos represent the building blocks of the community. Each block is an asset that can be used to build their dream neighborhood.

She then explained that throughout the summer, they will be discovering the assets that already exist through their listening activities. This project was a great way of helping the youth understand in a tangible way how asset-mapping can strengthen their community.

Throughout the summer, Essie, who is interning with us from Union Theological Seminary, will be writing weekly reflections based on her experiences with the youth and congregational volunteers engaged in the Dream Catcher projects across the city. Please stay connected and follow Essie through this exciting summer of learning and growing.

We are so thankful for Essie and her gift with young people! We are also thankful for our partnership with Union Presbyterian Seminary and their vision for giving students like Essie an opportunity to engage in community-based ministry.

However, we are most thankful for Chester UMC and their commitment to the Broadwater neighborhood and to the process of listening to the community.

Congratulations Chester UMC, our first Dream Catcher partners of 2015!

We can’t wait to see how God will use you and these amazing young people this summer.