By Sherrie Norris
The High Country community has begun to rally around Boone native Sydney Styron as she prepares for a summer of service with Next Step Ministries in Boston, Mass.
After an extensive application, hiring and interview process, Styron has been chosen to be a team leader with Next Step Ministries for the entire summer of 2022.
A current student at Appalachian State University in pursuit of her masters degree in social work, Styron said she is simply keeping a family tradition alive.
“Both of my parents attended Appalachian State and their careers involved helping others,” she said. “My grandfather also attended Appalachian State and helped develop WAMY and was a social worker without the title. From a young age, I have always had a heart to help others. In my career I am able to help others that do not get heard. In my spiritual life, I help others by exemplifying a light, meaning I want to be the light for them when there is darkness in their life.”
“Unique” is how Styron describes her upcoming opportunity to be part of a team that will lead (nine) one-week mission trips for middle school and high school students who come to serve in Boston.
“The students will work on the building projects in the community during the day, and experience real worship every night,” she described.” I am excited to come alongside these students as a mentor and example as they grow in their faith. But, while the students will be there for just one week, I will be living in the community for 10 weeks with one goal: to show Christ’s love all summer.”
While serving in Boston, Styron and her team will be partnering with the Boys and Girls Club in Wakefield, a small suburb in the greater Boston area.
“The Boys and Girls Club has become a staple in many communities across the United States, working to create safe places for kids to engage in a wide variety of programs,” she shared. “These programs include helping young people with their homework, computer training, learning and honing their skills in the arts, sports, as well as, learning strong coping skills that are needed for everyday life.”
Her teams will also participate in building projects for families in transitional housing, outreach events to love on the community, tangible service projects, and many opportunities to share the Gospel to families that find themselves in hard times.
“As the team leader, I will have the opportunity to lead a team of 8-10 summer staff members and oversee nine weeks of mission trips. I will be the contact point and support for team members —encouraging them and challenging them to grow daily through my leadership.”
In addition to the on-site leadership, she will be responsible
for working with youth leaders prior to their arrival on site, and will also have the opportunity to build and develop relationships with community members.
A team leader’s ultimate responsibility is to ensure the trip runs smoothly and that each church group has the best week possible, she added.
When asked what this opportunity means to her, Styron did not hesitate to respond.
“This trip is very important for me, because I will be able to grow in my faith, but also help others to grow in their faith, as well,” she said. “Spending a whole summer helping and serving others allows for me to grow my skills needed to be an effective social worker. I will be able to be present with community members in Boston to work with them, so they can create the goals they best see fit for their community. Meeting this community where they are is so important; they know what they need the most.”
Styron said she chose Next Step after spending a week in South Dakota last summer and experiencing the impact of just one week. “I knew that I had to go and see what an impact could be made in two-and-a half months.”
However, to make this opportunity possible, Styron has the task of developing a team for prayer and financial support, with a requirement to raise $2,500 in the meantime.
The community has begun to show its support, for which she is incredibly grateful, which includes a fundraiser at Comeback Shack earlier this week.
Any donation will go toward the aforementioned projects in Boston, as well as toward Syron’s food and lodging while she is there.
“If anyone wants to help, but unable to financially contribute, I ask that they commit to prayer for my teammates and myself as we embark on this new and challenging journey.”
Checks may be made payable to: Next Step Ministries with Sydney Styron written in the memo line and sent directly to: Next Step Ministries 717 Post Rd. Madison, WI 53713.
Donations may also be given online at https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/3535445
More About Next Step Ministries
Next Step Ministries is a Christ-centered, 501c3 nonprofit with the heartbeat to do missions differently. According to the organization’s website, it is passionate about the experience students can have on a mission trip — serving others while encountering a living God who offers freedom and grace.
“We are passionate about communities thriving, developing from within and restoring dignity. To this end, we lead thousands of students on one-week mission trips that connect them with sustainable community-led initiatives we support on a year-round basis. After reading When Helping Hurts in 2012, like many, we were tempted to throw short-term mission trips out the window. But, through a process of learning we have been inspired to create a space where the beauty and power of short-term trips can connect to real sustainable community development. It’s a tall task, and one we are constantly falling short of, but it’s also one that when done right, can provide an incredible God-sized experience for both students and communities alike.”
In 2002, two college students and their youth pastor decided to take a group of students overseas for a week-long mission trip. It was there, that these three individuals fell in love with the concept of short-term missions. They witnessed God transforming their students’ lives through exposure to what He was doing in the world around them.
In 2007, Andy, Nick and Todd founded Next Step Ministries, with a goal to allow God to transform student’s lives while serving the world around them. God was so faithful in the first five years and Next Step took off. The ministry grew from serving alongside four communities and 600 students, to 14 communities and 7,000 students.
In 2013, through the rapid growth, Next Step was so focused on what God was doing in the lives of students, the ministry began to notice it may be overlooking the residual harm being done to the communities it served. Next Step offered an apology for not always doing missions ‘the right way.’
Since 2019, the organization has continued the journey of learning and striving to be a missions organization where short-term mission trips collide with long term community development.
For more information, visit www: nextstepministries.com