Local YPD Makes Dreams Come True
By Ms. Sylvia Ebron and Miss. Qwaneisha Mackey, 11th District
Give Kids the World Village (GKTW) is a 79-acre, nonprofit resort in Central Florida that provides week long, cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. The Village and its community partners provide children and their families accommodations in fully-furnished villas, transportation, tickets to theme parks, meals, daily entertainment, and so much more. Their goal, quite simply, is to provide everything these deserving families from all over the world need to make their trip the vacation of a lifetime. Since 1986, more than 143,000 children and families have had their dreams fulfilled in a whimsical Village unlike any other place on earth.
The YPD of St. Stephen AME Church, Jacksonville, Florida, under the leadership of our Director Sylvia Ebron and President Qwaneisha Mackey travelled to Kissimmee, Florida, to volunteer at Give Kids the World. We participated in meal service, assisted at the pool and carousel, and helped facilitate Mayor Clayton’s birthday party. The YPDers also distributed Christmas gifts, participated in the Christmas parade (which included—believe it or not…snow), scooped ice cream, delivered meals to the villas, assisted with arts and crafts, and so much more.
We have volunteered almost every year since 2012. In 2015, our mentors, the Catherine Dawson Missionary Society, became GKTW “Angel” volunteers as well. We are looking forward to the YPD and WMS making the trip to GKTW together as a joint effort.
As “Angel” volunteers, our primary intention was to be a blessing to terminally ill children and their families; however, much more was accomplished. The YPDers and chaperones were the ones truly blessed by their humility, gratefulness, joy, love, thankfulness, high spirits, and deep appreciation of our service.
The YPDers were asked to write a report or comment on this mission project. Comments were “This was a life changing experience,” “When are we going back?” “Can we get more hours next time and stay longer?” “I wish I lived in Orlando, I would be there all the time,” What a magical place,” “Josh [sick child] said I was pretty,” and “Danny [sick child] remembered me and wouldn’t let anyone else help him.” “This trip changed a lot of us, we served, we bonded, but most of all we showed families love and they showed us even more love.” Needless to say I could go on and on but I think you get the point. Give Kids the World is a truly magical and fun place. Visit the website at www.gktw.org and see for yourself. We made a difference. Thank God for the opportunity to serve.
All praises to God for our then pastor, the Rev. Dr. Michael L. Mitchell, a visionary, who allowed us to take this journey which blessed our lives beyond any imaginable measure.