“We are the Seeds of Hope! We are the Seeds of Change!”
For the first time since the pandemic, Seeds of Hope has returned. The annual week-long young women’s experience took place at the Maryville Retreat Center in Livonia, Michigan in June. Teens arrived from all corners of North America—from New Mexico all the way to Toronto—to be guided through the servant leadership experience.
The main tenet of servant leadership is leading through serving, guiding people rather than exerting power over them. By listening, showing care to, and empathizing with the community, the community is empowered and inspired to perform at their best.
Attendees are taught leadership skills and community building tactics to give them the practical steps and help they require in creating a service project for their communities. Just like a seed, they were guided to start with one small manageable specific project that they could watch grow. Rather than tackling the entirety of a giant like climate change, for example, they instead are guided to start smaller with an event like gathering the community together for a litter clean-up day.
Along with the skills learned, it was a week filled with personal growth. Being a servant leader is about focusing on the growth and well-being of others, and that was seen in the ways attendees helped each other. Whether it was on the challenge course climbing structure, working through problems in small groups during sessions, or the small individual moments of sharing and looking out for each other outside of the programming, everyone came away with new strength, knowledge, and insights.
Many former attendees had been so inspired by their previous Seeds of Hope experiences that they returned as peer leaders and counsellors, providing servant leadership and guidance. As the week came to a close, attendees shared messages of gratitude. “This was one of the best experiences I’ve ever been a part of. I gained more through my faith and made new friendships. I was also able to learn how to start my own service project and bring it to my community.”
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the sisters. Not only did they provide all the meals and standby medical care for everyone in attendance, but they also had the grace to share their wisdom as well. Powerfully vulnerable sessions ranged from asking the young women to lay aside the masks they have carried throughout their lives while being aware of future masks to come, to considering the story of their lives and what major events have shaped who they are so far.
Other sessions included speakers from such groups as NETWORK Lobby, John Hopkins University P3 Lab, and Angela Hospice, a Felician-sponsored ministry.
A very special thank you to all the donors who helped make this weekend possible!
To see photos from Seeds of Hope and stay updated on future youth-focused events, follow our accounts on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/seedsofhopeservantleaders/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SOHLeadershipConference.