We have had an amazing leadership retreat season and have had the opportunity to pour into 13-18 year old’s through life changing programming. Programming at our weekend retreats has included: financial literacy training, wood working, welding, job skill readiness training, writing/resume workshops and so much more.
We are so thankful to the volunteers who invested in the youth that we serve during this season. We cannot wait to turn the page and start summer programming starting on Monday when our first group of children arrive for summer programming.
One volunteer that we would like to highlight today is Kimberly Stewart. Kimberly Stewart is a renowned local author who has greatly impacted our youth this year.
Please take a moment to read her story below:
Wildwood is a gift to me. I love its mission, I love the hands-on work so well done in so many lives, and I love its honest, authentic, relentless love of children. I’ve been able to see Wildwood from a few different angles over the years, and this year it was my total honor to teach a writers’ workshop during the weekend leadership retreats. On my way down to The Ranch the first week, I thought I might lose my breakfast, I was so nervous. I had all sorts of arguments I made to myself (convincingly, I might add) as I drove the half hour between my house and Wildwood Hills Ranch. I was unqualified. Someone else (anyone else) would do this better. The students were definitely going to roll their eyes in sync for one entire hour while I sputtered about narrative and character arc and our world’s need for good, heart-true stories. What had I been thinking when I’d gotten myself into this gig?
From our first moments together, however, the youth I met in our workshop showed my fears to be rickety and built on sands not even worth shifting. These individuals were bright, gracious, curious, and ready to work. They shared with me their lives and their stories with an openness that surprised and delighted me. We laughed a lot, cried some, made mistakes, and showed each other grace. Some of them wrote me letters via snail mail during the times between our workshops. Others brought me samples of the writing they did during our time apart, proud to show me short stories, poems, or a testimony of faith written on the occasion of a baptism. These young women are family changers, system changers, world changers. They are fierce and gentle, beautiful and raw. Our time together was a balm for me, and I find myself itching to get to work again when we are between sessions. I am every grateful for the chance to partner with Wildwood and count as total joy the hours in which I get to watch what can happen when we take a small step and say yes to a God who writes the best story, the story of total redemption and breath-catching, stubborn grace.”
-Kimberly Stewart, renowned local author.