Thursday, September 04, 2008

Jasper Speaks:

So, Youth Specialties has designated Saturday Youth Workers Appreciation Day. That makes me stop and think about how poorly I have been appreciating my youth staff lately. I mean, I am certain they don't feel like I take them for granted, but I haven't "celebrated" them much. I try to be an encouragement and thank them for all they do but I WANT my team to feel like they are on the coolest team in the church. I want them to feel like they would rather serve with us than anywhere else.

The kids themselves have done a great job of helping with the "coolness" factor lately. The couple of people who worked with us for the first time this summer loved it. The depressing thing is, one was our children's ministry intern, who went back to college and the other is our church office manager who can't be a weekly youth leader due to her previous commitment to AWANA. (I don't really count my intern, Aaron, because he isn't a member of the church and is a resident of another state altogether). Anyway, those of you who are youth workers understand that there is no better place on earth but how do I encourage my staff?

I don't want to be cheesy and give them key chains or pencils or something like that. I have a book called, "Go Team" that I really liked when I was in Maine. Not sure where it is now. I have seen it since I moved into my office, I just don't know where it is now.

In my first full time position, I gave my workers handwritten thank you notes anytime they helped with a project. They actually told me to stop. They thought it was too much. I think it became insincere (although it never was) in their eyes. So I try and limit my handwritten notes to once or twice a year. I also think giving them gift cards and things gets sticky because of using church funds. I certaintly can't afford to do it all out of my pocket.

So, I guess I am saying I am open to suggestions. I want to make my team feel special and I am looking for the least cheese possible. How do we do this on an on going basis without it starting to seem hallow? Any suggestions would be appreciated. Like Youth Specialties, I just want to have my own Youth Works Appreciation Day!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Headline Speaks:

St. Louis Woman Dies in Another Fast-Food Dispute

ST. LOUIS — For the second time in a month, police say a fight over fast food has led to the killing of a St. Louis resident.

Decora Jenkins, 18, was fatally shot early Monday in her home in St. Louis after arguing about a fast-food meal, police said.

Jenkins died from a gunshot wound to the head shortly after 1 a.m. in her home in the 1600 block of McLaran Avenue in the city's North Pointe neighborhood, police said.

Jenkins, her boyfriend, 20, and Erika Wherry, 28, returned to Jenkins' home after ordering food from a fast-food restaurant.

Wherry and Jenkins' boyfriend began wrestling over the food, police said. Wherry then picked up a gun and fired it toward the boyfriend but instead hit Jenkins, who was standing behind her boyfriend, police said. The boyfriend was unhurt except for minor gunpowder burns. Neighbors said Wherry is Jenkins' aunt.

Prosecutors charged Wherry on Monday with involuntary manslaughter.

Neighbor LaJoy Andrews said she had dropped the three off at the house after a block party, about an hour before the three drove to a nearby Rally's Hamburgers.

Andrews, 34, said Jenkins lived with Wherry, her father and younger brother, and had just earned her high school equivalency certificate last month. Andrews said Jenkins had planned to go to beauty school. Andrews described Jenkins as a "high-spirited" and "positive" person who rarely let anything bother her.

"It's very heartbreaking," Andrews said. "All this came about over a hamburger. It's a terrible situation."

Andrews said tough economic times may have factored into the argument.

"It's sad out here right now," she said. "There's no jobs. Everybody is stressed out."

On Monday afternoon, a swarm of ants was attacking two Rally's hamburger wrappers on the front porch of Jenkins' home. A man who answered the door declined to comment.

On Aug. 3, Carl Sharp, 26, of Jennings, a youth coach and former basketball player for Jennings High School, was fatally shot in the 3800 block of Lee Avenue in St. Louis after a dispute over a hamburger order placed at a fast-food restaurant. Police arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with that shooting.

Jasper Speaks:

I hadn't read about the first incident. Dying for a Rally's burger seems like a bit much. This story is so sad in its near comedy. What a commentary on the shape of our world. Our students are growing up in a world of violence that we didn't ever know. In someways it makes me long for the old cold war days when the thing you were most afraid of was that Russia would go crazy and nuke us. Oh yeah, that may still happen! SHEESH! No wonder students today are so stressed out!