Spring / Summer 2019
The first half of 2019 has been an exciting season for Éleos, one that’s challenged our faith and given us breathtaking glimpses of the future. Thank you for your faithful support and continual encouragement!
In this edition of the Éleos Newsletter, you’ll find:
- Graduate Spotlight
- Eleos Staff Profile
- “This is Home” Fundraiser Update
If it seems like most Eleos programs focus on working with students in our community, well…that’s because they do. We believe that if a community is going to thrive, its most effective leaders will be those who come from the neighborhood itself. We also know that graduating from high school is an impressive accomplishment that has the potential to open doors for a brighter future. If we can play even a small part in helping students from our community complete their high school education, we consider that a success worth celebrating.
Over the past three years, hundreds of students have been a part of Eleos through a variety of programs. Some joined us for Open Gym and Q&A sessions on Tuesday nights. Others took part in our tutoring program. Some even developed leadership skills through their involvement with the LEAD Project. While our team of staff and volunteers considers it a privilege to build relationships with every student, we want to take this opportunity to shine a spotlight on our 2019 graduates. We are so proud of each of them and excited to see all they will accomplish in the years to come!
Presenting: The Éleos Class of 2019
Wade Hampton High School
James F. Byrnes High School
JL Mann High School
South Carolina Whitmore School
JL Mann High School
Congratulations, graduates! We’re so proud of you!
Meet Mikey Hayes, Éleos Outreach Director
C.S. Lewis once said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” And you know what? He’s exactly right. Shared experiences are the heart of every strong relationship. In most cases, those experiences happen after you meet somebody for the first time. But every once in a while, you cross paths with someone whose past is similar to yours and friendship feels natural, like you’ve known them your whole life. Those relationships are special. And they’re the kind our new Outreach Director, Mikey Hayes, is hoping to build with students in our neighborhood.
We love having Mikey on the Éleos team, and after you learn a little more about his story and his heart for students, we think you’ll see why!
Q&A with Mikey
How did you first get involved with Éleos?
I first learned about Éleos through Cam Hill. He mentored me when I was a middle and high school student at GOAT (Great Outdoor Adventure Trips), another discipleship-based nonprofit in Greenville. After a couple of years, Cam told me that he was starting a program similar to GOAT, but it would be focused on basketball instead of outdoor trips. I jumped in right away and started leading teams at the Phillis Wheatly Community Center, but before I knew it, I had to hang up my basketball shoes because of some pretty serious family issues. But thankfully, the story didn’t stop there.
Fast forward two more years and I’m attending North Greenville University, working a part-time job, and tutoring students at Éleos. It didn’t take long for me to realize there was no way I could do all of these things. I decided to step back from the tutoring program simply because my job was my only way to earn an income. But I think it’s safe to say that God had a different plan. Cam mentioned to me that he was creating a paid role for someone to run, grow, and create new programs at Éleos, and he wanted that someone to be me. So, I quit my part-time job and accepted the position of Outreach Director.
What drew you to the role of Outreach Director?
More than anything else, the thing that drew me to this role was the opportunity to further take advantage of a time where I had the ability to love and serve students who are currently in a situation similar to the one I grew up in. The thing that drew me to coming on staff at Éleos is the opportunity to interact with those students and somehow be a part of their lives, in the hopes of somehow making a difference.
What are the unique qualities that you bring to the role?
I grew up in a similar situation as most of these students, which gives me a unique perspective. This natural understanding allows me to have increased patience, a better ability to interact and start conversations, and a stronger desire to see these students achieve their goals. In short, I lived a similar life to these students which allows me to understand where they’re coming from and why they do what they do. My experiences also give me a real-life perspective on how God can help you through even the toughest challenges.
What makes a mentoring program successful?
I think a mentoring program is successful when a relationship between a mentor and a mentee can grow regardless of the activities that they do. A successful mentoring program can look like students and mentors growing and learning from each other while playing basketball, drinking coffee, or even doing homework. The hallmark of a successful mentoring program is students and mentors learning and growing through their relationship no matter the setting.
When a student signs up for the Éleos mentoring program, what should they expect?
We’re trying to show these students that we love them for who they are. We’re trying to empower them to achieve goals and pursue opportunities they may not have known about before. Students should expect to feel loved no matter how many referrals they’ve gotten, how many fights they’ve been in, what their grades are, what their living situation may be, or what their family life looks like. Whatever their situation, students who become a part of an Éleos program can expect to feel loved unconditionally, because that’s how Jesus calls us to love each other.
Anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
I would love to thank everyone for supporting Éleos and its endeavors. There’s no way we could offer these programs or be involved in these student’s lives without the amazing support of our generous partners. With everything I have, thank you!
“This Is Home” Fundraiser Update
(Spoiler Alert: We bought a building!)
As many of you know, Éleos was given the opportunity to purchase the building that houses the Co-Op, our coworking/after-school tutoring center. With your help and God’s blessing, we were able to raise enough money to finalize the purchase in less than two months!
In the update below, our founder, Cam Hill, shares the incredible story of how God used this wildly unexpected fundraising campaign to expand our vision of what He can do through the generosity of His people!
I’ll start this update by being completely honest. There was a time in the middle of this fundraising process where I thought I would be sending a very different update. I remember one night near the end of May when I told Joy that I thought I would need to contact all of our generous donors and let them know we were going to need to return their gifts for several reasons: we hadn’t reached our goal, the financing terms weren’t as favorable as we had hoped, and the lease agreements weren’t as good as we thought they would be. I thought we were going to throw in the proverbial towel. I wrestled with the Lord about it, and finally gave in. I was days away from typing that discouraging email, first to our directors and then to our donors.
But then, over the next three days, the Lord graciously provided $30,000. Those unexpected donations took us from $130,000 to $160,000 in funds raised. I felt that was the Lord nudging us a little further down the field. “Keep going,” he seemed to be saying. Then, about 48 hours later, around 8 PM, I received a call from a local church elder. I thought it was odd to get a call from him so late, so I answered to make sure everything was okay. (He and I are pastors at separate churches, but we’ve worked together on some pretty heavy counseling scenarios. In our world, late night phone calls from other pastors are rarely a good thing.) After answering, I noticed that he sounded chipper. I breathed a sigh of relief.
He got right to the point and let me know he was recently at an elder meeting where he heard that Eleos needed some money. I shared with him that we had raised $160,000 so far, but we probably needed at least $200,000 to secure financing that we could afford. Without hesitating, he responded, “Well that’s great because we’d like to give you $40,000!”
My jaw literally dropped as I tried to find the words to convey my gratitude. As I searched for something that would stretch beyond a “thank you” and an “I don’t know what to say,” their entire team of elders spent time praying for the ministry of Eleos right there over the phone. It was a truly holy moment—and it wouldn’t be the last.
Not even 24 hours after that encouraging call, my phone rang again. This time it was the building owner. He shared with me that he and his wife were moved by the ministry of Eleos, and they wanted to offer private financing for the building purchase. But there was one condition: he needed us to raise $200,000. Can you believe that? We had secured that exact amount, unexpectedly, not even 24 hours earlier! Within two weeks of that conversation, we officially closed on the building.
God is good, amiright?
I share these incredible details for a specific reason. I want each of you to believe down in your bones that you’re a part of something so much bigger than yourself. Every time you show up to tutor, mentor, or shoot hoops, you’re not doing it alone. You are partnering with the almighty God who has the power to do so much more than raise $200,000! He has the power to change the eternal trajectory of the lives of the students and families we serve.
In any ministry, there are times when the mission seems too big and our efforts feel too small. I know that feeling well. In those moments, we need to remember whose mission this is, whose name we minister under, and who stands by our side. I believe with all my heart that we are faithfully walking the path that God has set before us. May this season of miracles be a reminder during seasons of drought. And may the God of past victories and future hope continue to lead us in the years ahead.
Purchasing the Co-Op has allowed us to call Nicholtown home for years to come. But may we never forget our heavenly home and our mission to pursue those heavenly realities here in the neighborhood. Thank you for being an essential part of the amazing work God is doing right here in our community! Let’s keep going!
Cam & Joy
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3: 20-21