Howdy from Our Philadelphia Native!

I guess the appropriate term now is Howdy! My name is Chris Butler and in West Philadelphia born and raised….No but seriously I am a proud Philadelphia native who recently joined the Episcopal Service Corps (ESC) down in Houston, TX after finishing up a liberal arts degree from a Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH where I focused on Sport Management studies and Sociology. I have also lived in Northeastern Maryland and Harlem, NYC, NY. I am passionate about service work, as a previous AmeriCorps VISTA alum, a current member of the ESC, and someone who generally likes giving back.

For the next year I will be serving at Generation One Academy, a TUITION FREE, non-profit non-denominational Christian school in the Third Ward of Houston. I have got to say after being here almost 2 months I must say I am so EXCITED to be here and my expectations have surpassed being met. For the first time in a long time, I am surrounded by not just Christo-centric thinkers, but men and women of action living out a Christ like lifestyle – and boy has it been refreshing! Every day I get to see the smiling faces of youth, our future in America; happy to be not only in school, but happy to see people who truly serve and love them. To me this is so amazing because my experiences in school at the K-8 level were not experiences I enjoyed, which is ultimately why I want to work with students.

In the past, from working with students in the AmeriCorps, as well as an Ivy League school based summer program, and various sports camps I have discovered something about kids – they just want to have a good time. No matter how rich, no matter how poor, ultimately good friendships and having people who care about them are the keys to success. I have benefited most in high school, from mentors who were academic administration and teachers who showed me they truly cared. On the contrary, I benefited the least in 1st-8th grade when I had no mentors, or people looking out for me outside of family.

The Generation One staff is different. They are not a team, but in fact a FAMILY. They truly put the needs of others before themselves and serve not for notoriety or accolades but rather to simply benefit those being served. It’s almost like a giant game of tug of war, only the G1 family isn’t going to lose. Who’s on the losing side of the rope you ask? Well that’s simple, it’s all the negativity we see in our world today that our children should not have to face. Thankfully, the G1 family serves as not only a beacon of light, but a beacon of hope as they are enabling a better future for these children. Some of them who aren’t even in middle school yet, are learning “college words” such as zealous, heed, and apex!

If we remove these labels, and treat our youth coming from detrimental environments no different than we would children in benign environments I would be willing to bet they would be far more likely to succeed. Showing our youth that someone cares is what matters most simply because sometimes the parents aren’t always around. As educators, our goal is not to gain state test score quotas, but to empower youth to shoot for their dreams and believe in their higher selves, or in other words, the Holy Spirit.

I chose to serve in the Episcopal Service Corps because I wanted to work with youth in an educational setting that was not secular for once, but also one different than Catholic school which I have attended my whole life. I believe that all Christians from Catholic, to Protestant, to Eastern Orthodox, to Mormon may not be on the same team, but we all are certainly playing the same sport. A love for Christ and a love for all by embodying Jesus’ mission and lifestyle into our own is the destination. Some of us just choose to drive a different car to get there. This is why I chose to serve in a program run by the Episcopal Church, this is why I chose to work at a non-denominational Christian school. This is why I’ve attended various Orthodox and contemporary services while down here. I believe it’s all one Church, one body of Christ. The great thing about Generation One, Inc. is that we are a family of varying Christian creeds, yet stand for the same mission. We stand for a better tomorrow in our world, we stand for transforming our community without displacing and relocating them for their wealthier counterparts, and we stand for a higher calling. This is why it was easy to join the ESC, because for the first time in a long time, I am able to stand with those who stand for….WHAT I STAND FOR. What is that you ask? The greater good of mankind as well as the TRUTH. I look forward to what the year brings whether challenging or stress-free, and am beyond blessed to be in this position. Not everyone get an opportunity like this.

Chris Butler, Generation One Academy

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