Christy is a freshman at Georgia College whose major is English with a focus in creative writing along with a minor in Spanish. She has a deep passion for the students involved in the YES Program at Baldwin High School and was excited to share her heart when asked.
Her Campus: What is the YES program and how did you first hear about it?
Christy Helms: The Yes program is an after school program for the students at Baldwin High School. The students come to get help with their homework, to learn about various life skills through enrichment programs, and ultimately, to be invested in and encouraged to believe that they are worth it. I heard about this program the summer before my freshman year at Georgia College when I asked a friend of mine about opportunities to love the community of Baldwin. My friend suggested looking into the Yes program as a way to pour into kids, and I am so grateful they thought to mention this program, because it has already shaped my life.
HC: What made you want to get involved?
CH: From the first time that I heard about the Yes program, the thought of working there made my heart come alive. I responded deeply to Jesus’ call to love others, to notice the ones sitting alone, to speak life and truth over another human heart. The opportunity to serve and encourage someone is a priceless gift. Really, all I knew was that God radically loves the kids of Baldwin, and I felt Him strengthening me to go and show that love in the way I tutored them. Day by day, He has shown me even more that, for all of the love I have for those kids, His love is deeper still. I am given so much more than I give every time I am there.
HC: How often do you work with the YES program?
CH: I work at the Yes program every day, Monday through Friday, except for some Friday’s that I take off. I have been blessed to have a schedule that allows me to be there every day. It is a full commitment, but it is more than worth it to be able to form lasting relationships with the students. They are unique treasures, every single one of them!
HC: What does the classroom you work in focus on?
CH: I am in two different classrooms throughout the afternoon. During the first hour, I have a class of freshmen. In that class, the students all work on their homework, the majority of which tends to be math, and I tutor and guide in any way I can. During the second hour, my fellow tutor Abbey and I prepare and lead a “Life Skills” enrichment, in which students learn how to change a tire, how to write a job resume, how to apply for colleges and the SAT, how to navigate an interview, and so on. The idea is to equip them with the skills they will need to be proactive in the world beyond high school. I was never fully taught many of the skills I had to learn in college, and I want these up-and-coming adults to have a head start. Teaching this enrichment has opened my eyes even more to the phenomenal wisdom and potential of the students. I cannot say enough about how amazingly full of promise and value they are!
HC: What has been your favorite part of the experience/favorite story?
CH: I honestly do not even know where to begin with this question. I could write a novel on each of these students and still not fully convey the precious beauty of their spirits. My favorite part of this job is the interaction with the kids. Every single conversation is significant. I love the process of learning to love them well; I love the process of getting to know them as they become more comfortable with me; I love hearing them say my name like they know me, and I love being able to walk up to any one of them and call them by name and ask how they are. Their stories are incredible. The strength and creativity of the students of Baldwin is unlike anything I have seen. From Bree’s hugs to Ardavious’ quiet presence, to Tyler’s loud laugh and Jermonn’s work ethic, these students show me the meaning of beauty. My heart is filled to overflowing with the knowledge of how important they are. As for my favorite memory, one day after the program, all of the students and tutors were outside waiting for the busses to come. It had been a rough day for Baldwin, and while our kids were not involved in the incidents, the weight of what had happened that day was felt among the students. Suddenly, a full double rainbow appeared in the sky, more brilliant than anything many of us experience in our lives. Everyone in that moment lost the worries of the day in the joy and excitement of the view. A lot of the students took pictures and videos. Even the tutors were overwhelmed with the sight. It was like a promise of hope at the end of it all, and we all stood united in awe.
HC: Why do you feel it is important for Georgia College students to interact with the community of Milledgeville?
CH: It is so important to be involved in this community for so many reasons! For me, Jesus has placed a call on my life to serve and follow him wherever I go. Wherever Jesus went, he took people with him, and he spoke life and truth and hope into every situation. So as he has me here in Milledgeville, he calls me to spread freedom as I go. What a privilege! And Milledgeville deserves freedom and love. This community is a part of where we are. This community is infinite in its depth and diversity. There are so many lovely people living their lives around our college, and it is our honor and joy to get to know them for as long as we are here. We are not just college students; we are citizens of Milledgeville for our four (or five, or six) years of education. It may sound unconvincing to suggest that we pour out into the community, but I can promise you this: it is worth it. And when you begin to serve the people, you come to understand just how much it is worth it. You will never regret going deep with the hearts of Milledgeville. You could regret passing the opportunity by, but you will never regret spending your time loving people. If you don’t believe me, you should try it. It will change your life.
HC: If others are interested in volunteering with the YES program, how would they go about getting involved?
CH: The way that I am involved in the Yes program is through a paid job. To get involved in the program in order to be a tutor, you can apply through GCSU jobs. There is an application online. You can also contact our wonderful, determined, wise and priceless employer, Ms. Alvey. She coordinates the employment of the Yes program through Georgia College. As for other volunteer opportunities, I know of several other after school programs in Baldwin that are volunteer. I believe there is a Boy and Girls club, and I am assuming the Give Center could help partner any interested students with the best opportunities.
(Christy chose to include photos that focused on the YES program and Baldwin High School)