Summer Servants: A Prism of Transformation
Heading into its eighth year, Summer Servants shines its light into the many facets of Brady
Transformation of a service site
Summer Servants have served at the Brady Farm for two years, reflecting the Brady community beyond our city neighborhood. For Jessi Lyons, the farm coordinator, it helps to have built-in Brady program collaboration. “It has been beneficial because we get much needed labor, and we also can spread the message about the value of urban agriculture and our community,” she says. “Having neighbors see so many people giving their time to make the farm project come to fruition helps foster their appreciation and ownership of the farm.”
The farm has relied on the Summer Servants group because they help with priority summer tasks and with ongoing farm projects. Most importantly the groups help show neighbors that Brady’s commitment is deep, and the work is a community effort.
Transformation of a program
The teen program at Brady Faith Center was born five years ago and for four of those years the group has attended Summer Servants, usually being the only urban representatives in a sea of suburban church groups. Challenges have arisen and the group has overcome them bravely.
Emmanuel Flowers, our youth leader, said that the teens have experienced wanting to run away from challenges in their lives, but Summer Servants has helped them learn to see things through. The camp has also elevated the understanding of faith and their personal relationship with Jesus.
He said Summer Servants is now a necessary part of the teens’ enrichment within the teen leadership program. “It gives them the confidence to take control of their relationship with God, and the understanding that the relationship is theirs.”
Transformation of a participant
Zach Marji credits Summer Servants to his personal growth and strengthening of his faith. He attended Brady’s camp every high school summer with a group of students from Holy Cross Church in DeWitt. He worked on minor home repairs with Brady families.
“Summer Servants contributes to the characteristics of an open-minded leader. Curiosity, the ability to see things from a different perspective, and the acceptance and respect for what others choose to believe in are some of the attributes that have opened my mind tremendously,” he says.
Now a student at LeMoyne College, he uses his faith experienced through action to overcome challenges and find peace. He explains, “I believe there is a certain aspect of peace that comes with faith, and the encounters with the wide range of people I had at Summer Servants have helped me come closer to achieving this peace.”
Transformation of opportunity
At Summer Servants a person’s story is emphasized over service. Zakeem Rutledge, Brady’s driver and maintenance manager, Seeds for the Arts student, and a former “Brady kid,” speaks to the campers each summer to share his story of when he was shot in neighborhood gunfire, and his path to recovery and forgiveness.
“It’s important to share my story to Summer Servants because in the inner city there aren’t many role models to look up to,” says Zakeem. “Knowing what I’ve been through and seeing where I’m going will give them the faith, belief, and hope to keep them striving for better.”
Zakeem recognizes his involvement with Brady has opened up opportunities to meet new people and motivate his career.
Transformation of Brady’s Network
Amy and Don Lynch first heard about Brady Faith Center through their church, St. Mary’s of the Assumption in Baldwinsville and their participation in Summer Servants in 2016.
“As with many people I tend to stick to my own community and hadn’t ventured much into Syracuse. I’m so glad that this camp exists for our youth group kids. It has made a big impact on their lives and introduced us to Brady!” Amy says.
Don says that their involvement with Brady has given their family many diverse opportunities to serve the urban community.
And serve they have! During the last two years, the Lynches have helped with renovations and landscaping work at Jail Ministry, Brady Faith Center, Masjid Isa Ibn Maryam Mosque, Stone Soup Garden, the Brady Farm, and homes within city neighborhoods.
“We are handy, so that is a way that we can share ourselves. We’ve worked on many projects, but meeting different people and learning their stories has been just amazing,” Amy says. Don explains further, “We’ve continued to help Brady Faith Center because the experiences are meaningful, enjoyable, and directly impact our community in a positive way.”