“It started with a van, a basketball, and a heart to trust God.” These simple actions led to a lifetime impact for many students in Memphis when Ken Bennett followed a calling to serve in a distressed neighborhood in Memphis. He founded STREETS Ministries in 1987, and today, the organization serves nearly 400 students each day at their two locations Downtown and in Graham Heights. STREETS Ministries engages, encourages, and equips youth to achieve their potential. STREETS offers after-school and summer programs for students, including a one-on-one mentoring program.
Like many organizations in the Mid-South, STREETS has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, STREETS has been able to continue its work by hosting virtual events, sharing encouraging messages with students on social media, and by serving as a mobile food pantry for the Mid-South Food Bank.
Recently, STREETS tapped into the spirit of #GivingTuesdayNow and celebrated generosity and volunteerism by highlighting 24 individuals who serve and help make the organization’s mission possible. They did this through the Faces of STREETS campaign on social media, described here by Eric Ballentine, Executive Director of STREETS.
“Maya Angelou once said ‘The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.’
Each Faces of Streets individual spotlighted this week exemplifies that kind of selfless love and service to their respective communities, and our great City of Memphis.”
Here are a few of the individuals that have been featured in the Faces of STREETS campaign. Follow them at @STREETSMinistries on Instagram to see many more #FacesofStreets and learn more about their work.
Officer Clarence Campbell
“I enjoy supporting STREETS Ministries because it is like supporting a neighbor in the South Memphis community. As a 10-year officer for the Memphis Police Department, I believe in the programs that STREETS offers for the youth in the neighborhood. A program like Youth Basketball allows me to engage as an officer, but also gives me a chance to know and encourage the youth by building relationships, mentoring and bridging the gap with police. I make every effort to get to know everyone by name. It allows me to be a kid again too by participating in each activity. I hope that I can help prepare the youth with the social and life skills needed to excel as an adult. I consider it a privilege to work with the youth daily via STREETS and to be recognized for my recent efforts.”
Principal Tara Harris
“I will always get behind an organization that puts children first! During my tenure at BTW, I’ve watched STREETS create a safe haven for children in the community year after year, and they have an agape love for the children they serve! I’m so supportive of the work they do that my own child goes to STREETS after school. The team at STREETS attends all of BTW’s games, and conducts regular touch points with our scholars throughout the week. The children we service need more practitioners, not theorists. I believe in STREETS’ mission because we serve alongside BTW as practitioners in the work of serving children.”
“Every person seeks a sense of belonging and a hope for the future. STREETS provides both. The ministry fosters community, through shared backgrounds and similar ages, as well as through building healthy relationships with mentors. STREETS also plants the seed of hope by encouraging interests and education, fostering opportunity for productive lives as the students leave school and enter adulthood.”
“STREETS provides a great environment and support for you to connect and mentor with urban youth. I have seen the positive impact that STREETS staff and mentors are having on young teens’ lives. I know personally that my mentees have changed my perspective and have helped me become a better man.”
“Interning at STREETS for two years was the most valuable experience I had while in college. I believe in this organization because of the relationships I have built with the staff and our kids. STREETS sees the unique passions and talents within each student and creates an environment where everyone feels like family.”
These individuals and several other Faces of STREETS are making a positive impact in the Memphis community. Having a mentor makes a significant difference in a child’s life.
“Youth with mentors are 78% more likely to volunteer regularly & 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.” – from MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.
Find out more about mentoring and volunteer opportunities at STREETS Ministries HERE.
Read more about the Faces of STREETS campaign HERE.