"It's just not fair, Aunt Alyssa!" Miranda said angrily. "I thought that our senior year at Fairfield High would be the best. But it's starting out to be the worst."
Miranda's boyfriend, Matt, stated, "Some people say that our generation is selfish and that we don't care about the needs of others. Well, they're wrong! We do care, and we were helping a lot of people through the ‘We Care About Our Neighbors' program until the principal canceled it."
"We had hoped that he might change his mind over the summer and restart the program in September," Miranda added.
"A group of us even met with the principal yesterday and asked him to reconsider," Matt explained. "But he said, ‘Absolutely not!' We asked several teachers if they would serve as our advisors, but they said that they couldn't."
"So, you need a new sponsor before you can get anyone to help you?" asked Aunt Alyssa.
"That's right," Miranda replied. "We're willing to work hard, but someone has to provide the oversight, do the planning and organizing, and advise us."
"Tell me a little more about the program," requested Aunt Alyssa.
"Mr. Alessandro was our advisor," Matt replied, "and Taylor did an awesome job leading the group."
"All of us in the program were like a family," Miranda explained. "We had so much fun together, and we raised a lot of money for Christmas gifts for the kids who are waiting to be adopted."
"The volunteers also worked hard weeding gardens, cleaning houses, and running errands for the elderly. Some of us visited nursing homes and delivered little gift baskets once a month. The people we helped were so appreciative," Matt continued. "We felt proud of what we were doing."
"They became our friends, even like grandparents to us," added Miranda.
"When the principal canceled the program we felt as if we had been slapped in the face. He might just as well have told us, ‘What you've been doing is worthless!'" Matt said angrily.
"And he canceled the program at the time the community needs it the most!" said Miranda.
"I know of at least 20 kids who want to participate in the program again," Matt added.
"Why don't we pray about this," Aunt Alyssa suggested. "God can do what seems impossible."
Having faced many adversities, Aunt Alyssa never gave up easily. After praying for guidance, she decided to visit her old friend, Pastor Petrovsky, at his church.
"Josef, I would like to speak with you for a moment, please," Aunt Alyssa requested.
"Of course," Pastor Petrovsky replied. "How are you, Alyssa? And how is your sweet niece, Miranda?"
"My family and I are all fine, thank you. How is your son, Jared, doing in seminary?"
"He's enjoying his studies. Now, what did you want to talk to me about?"
"We have been friends for many years, Josef, and you know that I am not one to tell you how to lead your congregation."
"Alyssa, please! Why are you beating around the bush? Usually you are very direct."
"Frankly, I think your church is missing a wonderful opportunity to help many people in our community."
"Good! At last you are getting to the point!" Pastor Petrovsky laughed. "So what do you think we should be doing, Alyssa? You would not come to me like this without first having a well-thought-out plan."
"In the past few months, many people have lost their jobs."
Pastor Petrovsky nodded. "I know it has been very difficult. Our food pantry is helping twice as many families as last year."
"Since the principal of Fairfield High eliminated the ‘We Care About Our Neighbors' program, which had been so successful, many of the students are angry and disappointed." Aunt Alyssa continued, "The program gave them valuable training in helping people in our community. It united them in accomplishing something of great value to many people. It gave them a sense of purpose and direction and took their minds off their own problems."
"The volunteers did much to help the community," Pastor Petrovsky agreed.
"As you know, Josef, many of the teens who attend this church were involved in the program."
"So you think the church should sponsor the program?" he asked.
"I would not be talking to you if I did not think it would also benefit the church."
"I am willing to consider this under one condition, Alyssa." Pastor Petrovsky's eyes twinkled. "You must direct the project."
"All right, Josef. Can I choose my co-director?"
"Yes . . . whom will you choose?"
"I will not do it without Taylor," she said firmly.
"Ah, an excellent choice! You have my full approval. I will schedule a special meeting for next Friday night. Speak with your co-director and be prepared to present your plans then."
With the prospect of a new sponsor now a good probability, Aunt Alyssa enthusiastically phoned Taylor.
"You want me to do what?" Taylor practically yelled into the phone. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to raise my voice, Aunt Alyssa. . . . Pastor Petrovsky thinks I should be co-director with you? . . . Okay, I'll see you tomorrow afternoon."
"What was that all about?" Abby asked her daughter.
"Mom! Dad! You won't believe this! I don't even believe it!" Taylor danced around the room. "The church is interested in sponsoring the ‘We Care About Our Neighbors' program."
"That's wonderful, honey," Paul responded. "In May it looked like the program had been permanently axed."
"So, how is Aunt Alyssa involved?" Abby questioned.
"She will be heading the program, and I'll be working with her as co-director. Isn't that awesome?"
"We're very proud of you, Taylor, and we'll help you in any way that we can," Abby said as she hugged her daughter.
"Will it be just for high school students, or could college students also volunteer?" Paul asked. "Since I'm teaching at the community college now, I might mention the opportunity to a few of my students, if they're interested."
"I'll have to talk to Aunt Alyssa about that . . ." Taylor sat down on the sofa. "I never expected this! I've got a lot to think about . . . and a lot of planning to do."
"We'll be praying for you, Taylor, and God will help you, just as He did before," Paul reassured her. "If you want feedback for your ideas, we'll be here for you."
Before going to bed, Taylor prayed, "Father, I'm very thankful and excited to have this opportunity. But I'm also starting to feel a little overwhelmed. I remember how You helped me in the past. So, I'm going to trust that You'll help Aunt Alyssa and me as we plan for this wonderful opportunity. . . . And I pray that at least one person will find You as Savior because of this program."
(Aunt Alyssa and Taylor have no idea of the critical role that they will soon fill as the city faces an impending crisis that no one ever imagined would come! Be sure to read "Emergency: Good Samaritans Needed, Part 2.")