A Promise Worth the Effort

            Next Friday, June 30th, I will get up early in the morning to join dozens of friends for a day on the Delaware River. We will not be lazing in the summer sun. No, we will take turns paddling in out-rigger canoes traveling from Trenton, NJ to Camden, NJ. That’s about 25 miles, or a 40-minute car ride. In an out-rigger canoe that means about a five-hour paddle. Two years ago I took part in this amazing event. Half the seats were always filled by members of the Philadelphia Outrigger Canoe Club. These women and men are serious paddlers. They row 15-mile races at a pace of 60 strokes per minute. We rookies were paddling an hour at a time at a leisurely 50 strokes per minutes for a solid hour. One crazy woman who paddled like broken machine stuck in high gear, shouted over her shoulder, “Are you feeling the burn?” Oh, yes, our shoulders and back were on fire.

            I’m happy, really honored actually, to sweat under the sun for the sake of raising money for Urban Promise Trenton. This is a favorite mission of mine; and I’m proud that since 2010, Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church has been a key supporting church. Melissa Mantz is now serving as the Executive Director of Urban Promise Trenton. Melissa loves the young people she serves. She brings great faith, wisdom and an extraordinary sense of humor to her work. A number of Thompson members volunteer on the Advisory Board. Others show up each week to tutor or help with other programs. Many of us have contributed generously to support this mission.

            The City of Trenton is a part of our “backyard”. In the name of Jesus, we belong on the streets of this city. The website for Urban Promise Trenton declares that, “The need for UrbanPromise in Trenton is without question. The city of Trenton ranks among the poorest cities in the state and has one of the country’s highest crime rates. Nearly a third of Trenton’s residents live below the poverty level, and the city’s high school graduation rate is under 50 percent and the lowest in the entire state. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Trenton’s population was about 85,000 and nearly 28% were under eighteen. This translates to over 23,000 kids with few alternatives to gangs and crime. With gangs recruiting children as young as eight years old, Trenton’s children are at risk. Our free programs not only take young children off the streets but also employ area teens, providing valuable life skills and a safe haven for these young people. UrbanPromise Trenton opens up a new world and allows city youth and teens to choose a better path for their future.”

            Joining me in the boats on June 30 are TMPC members Sam Spencer, Frederic Haubrich and Mark Tomkovicz. Please remember to pray for us and for all who paddle.

           If you would like to support me, please follow this link: https://www.commitchange.com/nj/trenton/urbanpromise-trenton/campaigns/stuart-spencer-paddle-for-promise-2017