The Family Support Department would like to recognize and appreciate our community partner, Teens In Public Service (TIPS).

Teens In Public Service is a non-profit organization that offers youth, ages 15-19, rewarding and life changing work in the form of paid community service internships. For the past several years, the Family Support Department has benefited from partnering with TIPS to receive an intern each summer to serve as a Camp Counselor in our Camp Ballinger summer day camp program. This is an ideal partnership because the TIPS interns gain much more than a summer paycheck; they develop job and leadership skills while we, as the placement site, receive extra support to help deliver needed services to our communities.

This summer we had the honor and privilege of hosting Henry as our TIPS intern. The best way to highlight the shared benefits of this community partnership is through this story, written by Henry as he reflected on his internship.

“My name is Henry and I was thrilled to be placed as a Teens in Public Service Intern this summer. This was my first job, and honestly, I cannot think of a better way I could have spent this summer. My placement at the Center for Human Services surpassed all my expectations. I could tell you about the day-to-day, the prep and post work that made the camp tick and my lucky place in the thick of it, but I instead want to tell you about one interaction I had, about halfway through the summer.

I love reading. I always have loved and always will love reading. Reading is core to my very being. However, at risk of sounding cliché, kids these days don’t love reading. Throughout the first half of my internship I tried to promote reading and literacy any chance I got, but I was thwarted time and time again. The campers foiled all my attempts at lighting a literate spark under them. One time it worked, though. This is what I want to share with you. This is what changed my perspective on learning, reading and my life.

The day was hot, and the campers were having frozen Go-gurts for snack. I stroll coolly along the line, still getting used to my camp counselor position. Seeing an open space I plopped next to a young girl, maybe 5 or 6, with curly, brown, flyaway pigtails. We sit in silence for a minute then, out of nowhere, she turns to me and holds up her tube of quickly melting yogurt, pointing to a word in bold near the bottom. “What does this say, read it to me.” It’s not a question; it’s a command. She asks for reading assistance so easily, it takes me by surprise. Literacy and a love of reading have always been central to my life, and I had been searching for an opportunity just like this one for weeks. Giddy, I point to the first letter and then hesitate, unsure, asking, “Do you know your letters?” She responds with a peeved ‘Yes’ and a sidelong half-glare. Then we get down to business. Letter by letter we spell ‘Strawberry’, and as we continue I can see a smile grow on her face. Once she figures this first puzzle out, she snatches my water bottle and points to a word in fine print on the label. “Can you help me with this one too?” A question this time. I answer a joyful affirmative, ecstatic to see a budding love of reading grow.

At some point in my life I have wanted to be a firefighter, a geologist, an ornithologist, a bird, a politician and an astronomer. Now I want to be a teacher, plain and simple. It does not matter what I teach, or where I teach it, that will come later, what’s important is that I know. When you strive, like me, to educate yourself at every turn, teaching becomes an addiction. Spreading ideas and taking in knowledge have always been my life missions. I did not realize this about myself until I taught that little girl to read her Gogurt.”

Thank you, on behalf of the Center for Human Services’ Family Support Department, to TIPS for choosing us as a placement site, and to Henry for the passion and enthusiasm he put forth into his internship this summer. This is what community partnering is all about!