“Speak out on behalf of those who have no voice, and defend all those who have been passed over.”
– Proverbs 31:8 Voice
With the new year well underway, many of us are moving forward with visionary goals and new resolutions in the areas we would like to change.
These personal changes are inspiring, but the most transformational experiences happen when our change leads to changing the lives of others. This is why we believe in building a life-changing church—one in which no individual, family, community, or life is passed over or ignored, but changed.
This was exemplified recently by men and women in San Francisco who chose to answer the call to care about, speak out for, and change the lives of those in the most overlooked segments of society – the special needs and disabilities community.
The inspiring impact of E-Hoops’ return
As a part of the E-Sports organization, E-Hoops (Exceptional Sports Basketball) is an all-volunteer basketball program in which typical and special needs children participate alongside one another in an inclusive environment at basketball clinics. Volunteers dedicate themselves to empowering children of all abilities to reach their full social and athletic potential, while making invaluable relationship connections.
Recently the first E-Hoops clinics resumed at the University of San Francisco (USF) after two years of not being able to meet in person due to the pandemic. Over 50 volunteers from San Francisco families and campuses such as SF State University, USF, City College of San Francisco, and local San Francisco high schools came together to close out 2021 with weekly clinics. With great determination and deep dedication to speaking out and caring for children with special needs, they served as mentors and coaches to train and love over 100 youth from all over the Bay Area.
One family drove an hour each way from San Jose to San Francisco just to have their son participate in E-Hoops every weekend. His parents shared that throughout the pandemic, there was nothing like this available in their community to help special needs kids stay active and socially inclusive, and how they had been looking forward all throughout the pandemic for E-Hoops to begin.
The University of San Francisco men’s and women’s basketball teams also insisted on volunteering their time in between their games and practices during their regular season. It was so encouraging to see the players immediately bond with the children while also learning from them about the life-changing impact of inclusion.
For many of these Division 1 college athletes, it was their first time mentoring those with special needs and experiencing inclusion. After each clinic they couldn’t stop talking about how energized they were and how much they loved being with each child. One basketball player was so impacted that he insisted on reserving tickets to USF basketball games for one of the young children he partnered with.
The impact of E-Hoops is continuing to spread. Just recently the Golden State Warriors invited E-Hoops and its participants and families to Warriors games this season to help further advocate for the special needs community.
One of the USF basketball players wrote about E-Hoops in a thesis for a class, describing the invaluable life lessons and awareness for inclusion he gained from serving as a mentor in the program. After reading the thesis, his professor went out of his way to contact the E-Hoops team to express how much he wanted to learn more and get involved to help change lives through inclusion.
“Share the Warmth” Coat and Bedding Drive
A number of disabled veterans in San Francisco and Colma were without basic essentials this year. They were especially in need of coats and bedding during the recent cold winter season. San Francisco Families, Professionals, and college students in our church came together on Christmas week to host the “Share the Warmth” coat and bedding drive to answer the call to help these disabled veterans who have served greatly with their lives.
Together with other friends of the church who joined in, these men and women made sure the veterans were not passed over in a time of need. They were able to collect around 100 new jackets, new blankets, and new bedding sets to make certain these veterans would not be without warmth this winter!
These are great reminders that when we decide to answer the call of those in need around us, we not only inspire lives, we change them. How can our personal change inspire change in the lives of others? This often starts with choosing to speak out for someone whose need is being passed over. In this way, God has destined each of us to answer his call to change a life in 2022!
Till next week,
Ray and Amy Kim
San Francisco Lead Ministers