Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Barbeque/Cookout (09/06/12)
TITLE: Butterfly Place
By Sharon Henderson
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“The girls have been through so much. You've done a wonderful thing opening Butterfly Place for those who have been rescued off the streets.” Gracie’s support spurred Sophia on when she didn’t think she could make this work. “I’ll get the grills fired up.”
Sophie mentally checked off the items: 200 hamburger patties, 200 skinless chicken breast halves, 400 buns, trays of sliced tomatoes, onions and pickles, bowls of shredded lettuce, and bottles of squeezable ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. Potato chips and corn chips finished off the meal. She considered something more substantial like potato salad or coleslaw but chips were easier to serve. Cans of soda were chilling in large tubs scattered about.
“Do we have enough plates, napkins, and cups? What about ice? Do we have enough ice?” The strain of the event was pounding through her words.
“Calm down, Sophia. This cookout is going to be great.” Sophia was shaking as Gracie hugged her to calm her nerves.
Sophia had approached her mega-church's local missions committee two years ago with an idea to help transition girls from juvenile hall to a safe environment where they could restart their lives away from the influences of the streets. Butterfly Place. The name implied these girls could break free from the cocoon of despair they lived in and become something beautiful. It took twelve months to lay the ground work and coordinate with law enforcement, volunteers, and donors. The biggest blessing came when “Granny” Marta (everyone’s favorite senior at church) donated her three bedroom house to Butterfly Place Ministries and moved into a small apartment in a nearby senior living center.
Today’s cookout was being held at a popular municipal park. Tickets had been sold in advance and more were available for walk-ups. Everyone would get a simple meal but more importantly they would hear about the dangers teenage girls face. Most would call these girls criminals but Sophie knows they are victims. Most had suffered early sexual abuse and many were under a pimp’s control. Sophie’s heart broke each time she met these girls in lock-up. Unimaginable stories poured out on every visit.
“WOW! I’ve been so busy I didn’t realize so many were here. Do we have a count yet?”
“Sophie, could you have imagined? We exceeded our goal on cookout tickets by $600 and you haven’t given your speech yet!”
“My speech! I almost forgot. Is the microphone set up?”
“It is and the crowd is ready to hear from you. Go get ‘em, girl.”
Making her way to the podium, Sophie surveyed the crowd. Who knew that hundreds of people could fit in this section of the park?
“Hello?” She tapped the microphone hard, jumping at the booming sound, bringing a big laugh from those seated around, some on blankets, some at picnic tables.
“Sorry about that but I guess I’ve got your attention now.” A wave of chuckles spread across the lawn.
“Is everyone full? A round of applause for the guys who grilled for us.”
After a brief pause, she continued, “Each of you probably know where your next meal is coming from. None of you would be expected to ‘work the street’ in order to earn a meal. The girls we are here to support today know all too well the pain of hunger. They hunger for meals but more than that they hunger for acceptance and they hunger to be … young. They just want to be teenage girls worrying only about the latest fashion trend but instead they are forced to be mature women in little girl bodies. Today you can have an impact on their lives for now and for eternity. We have one safe house and we need more. Sadly our giving has been down and we may lose the one we have if we don’t make the insurance payments and some needed repairs required by the city. What’s your decision? Keep that extra money in your pockets and checkbooks so you can buy the latest technology or help us change young lives … one butterfly at a time?
As members from her church collected donations, Sophie prayed, “Father, I pray it's enough. I pray it is enough.”
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