Ambassadors of Compassion
by Dennis Jaeger
The last four years Impact has had the opportunity to host groups of high school freshman from the Cy-Fair School District through a program at those schools called Ambassadors of Compassion (AOC). AOC is designed to teach leadership skills and integrity to students in public high schools.
Ambassadors of Compassion curriculum is based on the acronym L.I.F.E., which stands for labor, influence, forgiveness, and experiences, qualities needed to succeed in life. Students learn that without hard work, the right influences, moving beyond past hurts and having the right opportunities, they will not be able to face life’s challenges. This program provides youth the opportunity to personally “experience” and interact with community leaders and influencers in a small group discussion setting with other youth led by a team coach. There is an amazing opportunity for community leaders to walk alongside students in our schools as they are guided in making decisions and helped as they explore what it’s going to take for them to be successful.
Developing a rapport and open, honest communication is often hard. Likewise, taking the lessons beyond the classroom proves difficult, so AOC has implemented a day of service when, instead of going to school for a day, the participants climb onto a school bus to go and serve their community, which is where Impact comes in.
This last school year, Impact hosted 5 different high schools for their service day, usually a group of 45-50 students and their life coaches. The students arrive early and are introduced to the different ministries taking place at Impact. They then rotate between 5 different stations: Cooking lunch for our outdoorsmen, serving in the Resource Center, hearing a testimony about addiction struggle from one of the men in the life house, a random service project, and a discussion about the struggles of being homeless in Houston. The day ends with the group serving lunch to our outdoorsmen and then sitting down and eating alongside them.
Beyond seeing the help they give us, it is a great joy to watch the barriers break down between the students and their team coaches throughout the day. While some start the day uncomfortable and unsure about what they’ll be involved in, no one ever ends the day that way. The shared experience of helping others creates more open and honest conversations not only during their day of service at Impact, but also throughout the rest of the school year. Because of encountering others who struggle, many students are able to better navigate difficult life circumstances they might be facing.
Everyone ends the day learning how great if feels to serve others and, despite being pushed out of their comfort zone, many students point to the Impact trip as the highlight of their year. Like myself, they came to Impact to help others, but found their lives were forever changed also. What a blessing to spend time with such wonderful students and to connect them with serving their communities during their school day!