WOW! Friday Nights have been packed at Common Ground. When we started Common Ground a few years ago we hoped to create safe spaces for youth to hang out and not have to worry about peer pressure, dealing with drugs or alcohol, or a host of other temptations early adolescents face growing up in a small town.
For the last several weeks our numbers have been steadily growing. Last night we had over 35 teens packed into our building in downtown Delavan. These were 35 teens that weren’t running the streets, that weren’t wandering without support or supervision, that weren’t in someone’s basement trying to fit in, or just staring at a cell phone or watching Netflix.
Each week our local Casey’s General Store donates enough pizza to feed a small army, parents and students provide drinks and snacks, and a small handful of adults give mom and dad a few hours to themselves.
On a typical Friday night you can find some intense ping-pong or air-hockey being played, or someone in the corner performing magic tricks, baked goods from the Common Ground Community Garden via the Girl Scouts (Zucchini Bread, Cake Pops, Cookies, etc.), small gaggles of kids whispering to each other about a crush or taking selfies to capture these moments.
Eventually most of the students gather in a circle for group games. If you’re ever driving by at night and see 20 kids and a couple crazy adults standing in a circle, clapping their hands, or hopping on one foot while singing One Direction songs we are probably playing one of the many goofy games that crack us up.
Sometimes, as we close the night, the past week events can weigh heavily on the minds of our young people and they want to sit a talk about it, process it, sometimes even pray about it. A few weeks ago, after a particularly violent week of unarmed black male shootings, the Orlando LGBT club massacre, and police officers being killed, several of the students began talking about how they feel the burden to make this world a safer place for everyone and the spontaneously began praying out loud for God to use them to change their world. It brought the adults in the room to tears. It was a beautiful moment.
As usual, we couldn’t do this without your support. Those of you that support this night make this and so much more possible. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the stories of hurt, hope, sadness, and joy that we hear on a weekly basis. Your kids are all amazing and we are grateful and honored that you share them with us. Parenting is hard and you’re all doing better than you give yourself credit for.
Here comes the obligatory ask for volunteers; we are largely outnumbered on Friday nights. 35 – 2 ratio is not safe. We need your help. Below I’ve attached a link to a calendar where you can sign up to help. You do not need to be youth worker rock star (you’re already a rock star). We have many different roles you can play on Friday night; serving snacks and drinks, room monitor, clean up crew, game warden, teen ninja master, etc. There’s a list of ways you can continue to serve our Friday night outreach. If we have enough people we all only need to serve about once every 4-6 weeks. There’s no other commitment for 3 hours once a month that is as rewarding. Jump in and join the team!