We had the incredible privilege of having high school and soon to be college intern Jonathan Amaya this past spring and part time this summer and he knocked it out of the park for Christ Church Outreach.  Jonathan, as he describes in the blog post, jumped in with both feet to help out with Bag Lunch, Lazarus Food Pantry and Lazarus Financial Ministry.  Part of what he describes so well is the transformative power and reciprocity of becoming part of a  community here at Christ church, through his mentors at school and the community and in turn helping others. That is one of my favorite parts of the work, being part of the transformation I witness in those we are helping and those who are doing the helping. To me it’s the closest we get to living the Gospel. - Melanie

My name is Jonathan Amaya. I graduated from Mount Vernon High School in June and earned the International Baccalaureate Diploma. In less than a week, I am will be off on my next journey, college. Our family van will travel down Rt. 81 to James Madison University, where I have been awarded a full four-year scholarship as a JMU Centennial Scholar. I am leaving home for the first time to fulfill a dream I have had my entire life.

I have become the first person in my family to go to college.

Christ Church is a loving family and I dedicate my achievements to this special place. I feel like the luckiest student around for being chosen to be one of the “Kids of Note,” the mentoring initiative founded six years ago by Jason Abel, Kris Amundson, and my first band director Kristi Thomas. Without this team of generous, smart and kind people, I sincerely doubt I would be going to college. As much as my family loves and supports me, and as hard as I was willing to work, this moment in my life was one I needed help with.

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I was required to do an internship as part of my IB Diploma. Melanie Gray was kind enough to let me spend it working at Christ Church. I was very happy to give back to the place that had provided so much for me. Words cannot explain how amazed I am with the parishioners and the services this church provides. I was fortunate to work for many of the programs, such as the Bag Lunch Program, the Lazarus Ministry financial counseling, and the food pantry. I translated, worked as a counselor, made sandwiches, and I even sorted underwear! It was my pleasure to continue my work at church this summer and I know I will be back. One of the coolest things about this is that I have had the opportunity to meet the clergy and staff and to make a personal connection that will be with me forever. Now, this feels like my home, too.

Band Camp starts this Sunday and I am going to be a Marching Royal Duke –  one of 400! The “Note” part of this program is really important. Each of us has been encouraged to stay in Band and to keep up with our music. School scheduling makes this tricky with required classes, but KON had our back. We did not always have the funds to participate in trips, but KON stepped in to make these barriers go away. None of us owned our own instruments, but each year one of us received a new one thanks to your generosity.

Thank you to Jason Abel and the Choirs of Christ Church, to Kris Amundson and her office at NASBE, and to Kristi Thomas who never tired of my emails, texts, calls, and questions. Thank you Johanna Salas and Andy Lutter for trips to JMU, Bonnie and Daryl Hairston for guidance and generosity outfitting my dorm room, and Marion and Jeremy Eckhause for taking me to JMU Night at Nats Park. Cheryl Lovitt started my day every day at MVHS with a big smile and a wave as I passed her office. Thank you Melanie, for welcoming me into the community of Christ Church.

I have never been away from home – this is all exciting and a bit scary, too. My family depends on me a great deal and it will be hard for us to be apart. Through the dedication of the mentors in the program, I was able to realize my capabilities and aim higher than what I was thinking. They told me I could do it. They told me they were proud of me. I know they believe in me. Now I intend to prove that I am up to this challenge. I promise to come back and let you know.