Army Reaches Out to ‘Forgotten Teens’
Two of the poorest counties in the United States–San Miguel and Mora–are located in New Mexico. “Young people here are very acclimated to the welfare system,” said Envoy Stan Sons. “Most of them have been told since birth that they will never amount to anything, and as they grow older and look around at their surroundings they tend to agree. This is definitely an uphill battle.”
Young adults often fall between the cracks, losing interest and disappearing from church activities. Envoys Stanley and Peggy Sons are doing something about that age group: not just something–many things.
Every week the youth go to the state mental hospital. They sing, teach children’s songs, and pass out War Crys. Once a month, they go to the nursing home. “The kids love to go in costume and visit each room,” said Sons. There is a lot of singing here, too.
They are involved in many special events around the community. Kiwanis welcomes their help with the annual “Bike Rodeo” by helping teach the younger kids bike safety. They go along to “Youth Rally” and help out. The Las Vegas minister’s group puts on a community Thanksgiving service every year. They have been invited to sing for the fourth year in a row–the only group invited back. They serve and perform at the Thanksgiving dinner.
“One of their favorite times is helping pass out presents at the Christmas party,” said Sons. “They also build floats or march in the Christmas Electric Light parade. For the last three years, they have been the only group to sing at the city’s tree lighting ceremony.”
Young adults learn vocal music, dance (limited), makeup, costuming, lights, sound, staging–all the good stuff for a fun show. What they get out of it is love, understanding, compassion, confidence, and God. That’s why they do theater and movie music. They don’t realize they are in church until Jesus has them by the hand.
Over the years they have sung with the divisional gospel choir at camp meetings and Youth Councils.
Roberta (Robin) Sons is their youth worker. She is the one who teaches the music. “The teenage years are a difficult time for many people. I think our program gives these young adults a chance to explore who they are through music and drama. It gives them a chance to act out many different emotions, and in the process learn how to deal with them in real life.”
Envoy Peggy Sons says, “I am the mother. I stay in the background and provide the shoulder to cry on. We talk about boy problems and parent problems and teacher problems. You know, mother stuff.”
Sometimes parents want to take their children out of the program when they have trouble in school. Tutors from Highland University help some of the kids with their schoolwork.
“It is our goal and vision to expand this program so that we can help many more young adults,” Envoy Stanley Sons says. “I feel we are reaching out to a forgotten age group. We cannot make a difference in every teenager’s life, but we can reach out to all those that God will allow.”