Village Wrench: Bike (L)earning

What do you know about The Village Wrench?

VillageWrench from Kaleb Ross on Vimeo.


Learn more about The Village Wrench, a part of Mill Community Ministries (Greenville, SC).


Young Entrepreneurs

hannah village fashion

My daughter has a fantastic summer job, through which she is earning a paycheck by the sweat of her brow (and her back, armpits, and all over). But more than that, she and thirteen other teenagers have the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship.

Every Wednesday, these youth meet to learn about characteristics of successful businesses, such as strategy, marketing, customer service, etc. Then they get to apply their knowledge through a real-world business plan.

That’s right, these teenagers are not just learning about business. They are running a business.

Check that. They are collectively launching and running four businesses:

  • Bread Winnerz is developing a recipe with a local bread maker.
  • Village Fashion will be designing and printing a t-shirt.
  • Team Frepair is designing and building a bike repair station.
  • Cook It Up is creating a healthy, low-cost recipe using the produce the teens are growing.

We are almost halfway through our summer (gasp!), and these business teams are making progress. However, they need your support. They each need some more capital to get their businesses going.

Would you consider making a financial contribution to support one of the teams? Note that your money will be used as a no-interest loan to help build a real business. And when that business pays back the loan, your original investment will then help another entrepreneur. (Thanks, Nasha Lending!)

You can click on any of the team names above to make a donation. Of course, I have a particular favorite — the most fashionable choice.  (And you can check out their blog, too.)

Summer Opportunities

MVF Serenity Farm
Hannah volunteered with Mill Village Farms. Now she’ll be working for them.

This summer will be busy with a new season for our family. And we are glad.

This will be our first full summer in Greenville in 5 years, and there is no doubt that that 2015 is very different than 2010. Five years ago, we had a house with a neighborhood pool, our kids went to a week of VBS, and we spent a lot of time with friends. (Of course, since I was a children’s pastor, summer was very busy.)

All of those are fine and well, but now we are in a new season. Part of the change is because our kids are older: Hannah (about to enter high school!) was our youngest’s age when we last lived in Greenville. And part of the change is that our focus is very different.

This summer, Hannah will be busy working her first real job, and for the first time ever, we will be assisting with (but not in charge of) a summer camp for local children.

Click here to learn more…

Engaging Your Business and Your Community

missiontoworship_14Nov Last fall, Grace Church hosted a Mission to Worship event. In case you missed it, I thought it would be beneficial to re-post the videos (and some thoughts) from the two main teaching sessions.

Building Significance in Your Business

First, Brian Gural facilitated a conversation with businessman Mike Pereyo. If you are a Christian business-owner, you will be challenged and encouraged by watching this. And even if you’re not (like myself), you will love the story of this company.  Click here to continue…

Getting Powered for Life!

Last month, we (Elevate Youth and Mill Village Farms) helped to launch a 16-week program for teenagers, called Powered for Life. We advertised and recruited with the aim of enlisting a diverse range of students. With students coming from six different schools, I think we achieved our goal!

The Powered for Life material is a Bible-centered tool to help prepare young adults for a successful life. It focuses on four main ideas, with the acronym L.I.F.E. –>

Learn more by clicking here…

Why After School Programs

kasarda additionDuring our time in Allendale, my wife and I saw the value of after school programs for children and teenagers. Besides giving children an opportunity to get help with school work, they need a place hang out with friends and positive role models. (I saw this early on when we asked some students why they wanted to be in the new after school program.)

When we moved to Greenville this summer, we wondered if an after school program would be needed in the Greater Sullivan Neighborhood (the community where we are focusing on for now). And after talking with school and community leaders, as well as local parents, we were sure that this was a need.

But this is not a novel idea, of course, whether in Greenville or in our neighborhood. A couple of years ago, a young man who came through the Mill Village Farms program as a teenager, had the desire to start an after school program. But at 19 years of age, Morrell Stokes didn’t feel like he could do this himself.

God (and a mutual friend) brought Morrell and I together, combining his passion for the community, and our experience with after school programs. We are excited to be working together to launch Clubhouse Kids After School on Monday January 26, meeting at Long Branch Baptist Church (Morrell’s church, and a partner of Grace Church and Mill Community Ministries).  Continue reading

Year-End Giving: Mill Community Ministries

cash morguefile cohdra

It’s that time of the year when you will be inundated with numerous requests to donate money before 2014 is over. (Can we say “tax deduction”?). And that’s great, since there are many worthwhile charities that need our support.

Besides giving to Grace Church and supporting a few overseas missionaries (Osborns, Cawleys, Dosters), we also donate to a few other charities (both faith-based and social service) regularly. Over the last 10 years, we’ve consolidated more and more so we are not spreading out our resources too much.

Do you know who else we give to? Mill Community Ministries, the organization I work for. And if you are wondering where you can make a meaningful financial contribution, I encourage you to consider donating to Mill Community Ministries, too.

Learn about the example I witnessed that changed my life…