Giving in some capacity has always been part of our marriage, and I credit my husband with setting that standard when we met. As we started a family and became more firmly planted in our own church and community, the opportunities to give also increased, and we found ourselves saying, “Well how do we decide?”  It was during this time that I also felt that God was asking us to do more than just write a check. He wanted an investment, a commitment, a passion for an area where He himself was intimately involved.

For perhaps the first time, we began to consider the impact of our giving. We decided that we wanted to invest in our own community and in ways that reflected our roles as parents of two young sons. With those goals in mind, we discovered two local initiatives where we felt a personal connection and a desire to support them and watch them grow. One of those was Restore One, and the other was Third Street Academy.

We chose a private Christian education for our own sons, but we acknowledged that doing so came at a cost that many in our community could not afford. When we learned that Third Street Academy was providing such an education for boys in their own neighborhood whose families may not be able to pay for private school, we wanted to help. Our initial pledge was nominal; what I felt God truly wanted from me at that point was a gift of my time.

When I started researching opportunities to serve, I learned that the Third Street Education Center offered an arts program. My family spent an afternoon there each week over the last year; we shared snacks together, heard a Bible lesson, and learned the violin. I got to see first-hand where and how the children at Third Street Academy are learning, and what I discovered is a family. These preK-2nd grade boys are cared for physically, spiritually, emotionally and academically. It was one thing to hear that those things were happening; it was another to meet the adults who love and foster these boys – experienced teachers, expert musicians, reading coaches, etc. Being around these children, and spending time in their school, inspired us to increase our support.

Seeing Third Street Academy in action is truly inspiring; knowing that they want to continue to grow provides the community with an opportunity to come alongside them financially, emotionally and prayerfully. The opportunities that Third Street Academy is providing these young men are an investment in children, in Greenville and in the Kingdom of God.

-Jennifer Orr