I am so stoked to share with you about the latest project I've been working on! For the past couple months, I've been working to create this tote design and it's finally here! It is now added to the shop section so please feel free to check out the details here.
My original intention behind the tote bag was to create a design that is for the people. I'm a firm believer that each individual should embrace their unique qualities and celebrate it! No matter where you're from or what you do, you are loved and I just want to want to spread that message to the world. With this project, I wanted to partner up with an organization with the same vision and support them somehow. This past Sunday, I was introduced to an amazing young lady named Kyra, who leads a life group called Capernaum and I knew this was the organization I wanted to support. Capernaum, partnered with Young Life, is a non-profit organization that focuses on people with special needs and makes them feel loved everyday. Kyra was kind enough to share with me her heart for people with disabilities and young people in general. She is such an amazing example of a young, godly woman and I just had to interview her :)
When did you first become involved in working with people with special needs?
I first found my passion for serving people with special needs when I was in middle school and I continued to work with them in a school setting throughout high school as well. However, working in a school setting wasn't enough for me; I wanted to share the Gospel with these amazing kids.
What is the vision behind Young Life and Capernaum?
Young Life is a Christian-based non-profit organization whose goal is simple- to tell every single adolescent about Jesus. Capernaum is a branch of Young Life that focuses on teens and young adults with disabilities. We want to accomplish our goal the closest way to how Jesus did it. Jesus' ministry was very close-knit and relational with his 12 disciples. Forming long term, genuine relationships with our Capernaum friends is what our ministry is all about. Capernaum is a place where people who are often overlooked in society can feel fully accepted. They are free to be who they are and they know that they are loved.
How did you get plugged into Young Life and Capernaum?
I was introduced to Young Life Capernaum at a conference I was attending as a Junior High leader at Beachpoint Church. I saw a video of what Capernaum is all about and immediately I felt the Holy Spirit telling me this is it. Starting a ministry for people with special needs was something I had always wanted to do; I just never knew how to start. I am so thankful God had me there that weekend. It's amazing how the Lord had been preparing my heart and passions to perfectly match the vision of Young Life Capernaum.
The Lord's timing is always perfect. I immediately got in contact with someone local who did Capernaum. He told me the lady who ran Capernaum in Huntington Beach was stepping down and they had been praying for a replacement in order for their Club to live on. So without knowing what I was getting into, I agreed to take over. I was a leap of faith but God is so faithful! He has held my hand through all of this.
What are some of your hopes for the kids attending? Any future events?
This year we are going to be setting an age limit for our club. After age 23 our goal is to have our friends transitioned out of our weekly club and into a church. My dream is for my friends to be excited about leaving! I want them to know that they are going to be loved and accepted wherever they go- and I pray that will be true.
To celebrate their transition or "promotion" we are going to be holding a formal prom next month! This will be a chance to celebrate and acknowledge how far our friends have come since they first became a part of Capernaum. This also give us a chance to reach and welcome new people with special needs in our community. This is our first year doing Capernaum Prom but we are hoping and praying to make this a yearly event!
What are some of the practical things we could do that help people with special needs?
The first thing is pray. Pray for our friends with special needs and their families, pray for me and all the volunteer leaders, and pray for our ministry to remain focused on the Kingdom of God. Spreading the word a huge help to us! We want to continue to grow and bless people through this ministry. Sharing what Capernaum is with people who have special needs, potential volunteer leaders, families, churches etc. will help reach more friends with special needs than we could do on our own! Another way to bless Capernaum is through financial support. Young Life in Huntington Beach is finally starting to come out of a major financial hardship. The money we receive from donors will go directly to keeping our ministry running, as well as sending our friends to camp- the BEST week of their lives!
What are some of your favorite things or hobbies outside of Capernaum? :)
My absolute favorite thing in life is simply to be in community. I love spending as much time as possible with the people I love. My entire life revolves around forming relationships; this is something that nourishes my soul and keeps me going each day.
I recently discovered my love for indoor rock climbing! It's been such an awesome escape from my insanely busy life. Crafting, painting, and journaling are 3 things I love to do. Resting and embracing quiet time is a challenge for me; I always want to stay productive. But I have found myself to really enjoy sitting outdoors and exploring my creative side. Going to the beach and swimming, snorkeling, or just watching the waves is one of the places I immediately feel the Lord's presence. I love going to different beaches and resting in God's beauty.
What does celebrating individuality mean to you?
"Celebrate Individually" is something that connects so deeply with what my Capernaum friends experience in their everyday lives. They have the choice to look at their differences in a negative light and try to mold to the image society has created or they can embrace their unique abilities and celebrate them! Able-bodied people have this option as well when we encounter any person with a disability. We can either begin to look at the ways in which they can improve themselves or we can fully love and accept them for who they are and be the people in their lives every human being desires; friends.
20% of the proceeds of this tote will go to funding Capernaum and Young Life. If you would like to get involved or stay connected, please visit www.younglife.org/capernaum for further details :)