December 2022 – Rev. Shelly Denmark
Reflections on Crave Class V
We broke some records this year…they didn’t receive the kind of attention that Noah Lyles did (deservedly so), but they were important for the future of Crave. This year we had not only 1, but 2 family teams as Crave Leaders. It was inspiring to watch The Bishops and Team Lewis leverage their unique gifts as family units to better serve each of their organizations. And they set a precedent…we have a mother-daughter team who applied for the next Cohort. We appreciate both of these families letting us learn together as we tried something new.
We also started out with the largest Cohort Crave has ever had! And while a couple of our wonderful leaders had to step away for personal and work reasons, the Cohort still kept in touch with them, found ways to care for them, and collaborate on projects together. That is the mark of an intentional community.
Class V set the bar for the most money contributed towards Crave…and I know they will continue in that spirit of generosity as they engage and participate in our Alumni community. They are the spark that helped us get better organized to ensure we are meeting our Alumni’s ongoing needs.
Now for some individual gratitudes…
Seven was a sponge this year in Crave, soaking up all that he could learn and apply towards making Las Semillas the most impactful it can be. He is a deeply compassionate human who shares all of his resources to make sure that vulnerable members in his community have what they need. The world desperately needs more leaders like him, and I am grateful to have journeyed with him and witness his pure goodness lighten up the world!
Caleb is one of the best conversation partners I have ever had! He is what they call an “old soul,” wise beyond his years. I witnessed a consistent selflessness in him and a deep desire to offer encouragement and inspiration to those who need it most. It’s like a sixth sense in him! I am grateful for his generosity, and I look forward to many more life-changing discussions to come!
I witnessed a complete 180-turn in Shala this year! From shedding tears together over her story when we first met, to watching her confidently navigate ribbon-cuttings, fundraisers, and grant-writing…she is a powerhouse! I believe this journey has encouraged and empowered her to step fully into who she is uniquely gifted to be as a leader and a model for the girls and young women she is serving. I can’t wait to see her continue to shine!
Lo-Ammi demonstrated such courage this year! Moving from the familiar to the unknown, a bustling metropolitan city to a more rural area, from one job to the next and to the next — he never let fear keep him from taking the next best step forward. And now, he is in the perfect place…giving back to his alma mater, influencing young minds and hearts, and finding supportive community in the midst of it. I am grateful that he radiated light and positivity with us, and he chose the right name for his foundation because he IS greater!
Pastor Lewis is the epitome of focused leadership. He knows exactly what God has called him to do, and he doesn’t let distractions, obstacles, or frustrations steer him away from that path. I am grateful for the spiritual maturity he bestowed upon us and for sharing his story so authentically and freely.
Antoniah, brilliance and humility – what a perfect pairing, and that is exactly who she is! She takes time to consider and then contribute, and we are all left better for having communed with her. I am grateful for her vulnerability and how she is always willing to share what is on her heart.
I don’t think anyone participated in more Crave opportunities than Edrewnae! She took on this journey with joy, gentle curiosity, and a clear love of learning and sharing with others. I am grateful for her consistent encouragement and for being the rock I know she is for her family. I want to be like her when I grow up!
I look at Keisha’s travel schedule, events, workshops, and dedication to her grown children and think “how on earth does she do it?” She is a shining example of perseverance and strength, which motivates those around her to keep on keeping on. I am grateful for how she reached out to me when I needed a wise and empathetic listener, and I look forward to growing our friendship!
Mark entered spaces and made everyone feel welcome, seen, and included. He was always ready to learn from others, and like Edrewnae, he was consistently one of the first to show up and one of the last to leave our sessions. I am grateful for his servant leadership that he taught each of us, and I look forward to witnessing how the Lyles’ Brothers Sports Foundation grows with him at the helm!