Veronica Hernandez is a senior Counseling major at Clarks Summit University. The New Jersey native serves in the ministry of Mission Scranton, alongside other CSU students and under the leadership of CSU’s developer of student teams, Nathan Miller. Hernandez was first involved in the ministry’s night for teens. She brought snacks and became part of the lives of students from a low-income area near Scranton, Pennsylvania. Now she serves on Monday nights, where she translates lessons for young students in Spanish—a new ministry she helped to start after uncovering the great need.
“I started going to the kids night because of Teen Leadership Conference last summer. Nate [Miller] told me about two little kids who didn’t speak English—only Spanish. That’s when I officially started to translate for the kids. One night, one of the Spanish-speaking boys asked me to help him with homework. That’s when we realized kids need help with homework—especially those who only speak Spanish.”
Hernandez says she relates to these kids because of her Hispanic cultural background. She’s bilingual, loves dancing and music and is close to her siblings. However, in this poor community, many of the young people face adversity and use drugs as an attempt to escape from painful experiences. Many are left to their own devices in how to deal with challenges like abuse, divorce and illness. Many never see healthy relationships and have no stable family example. Hernandez says impoverished neighborhoods like these tend to lack positive influences inside the community—people the kids can look up to, who grew up in the same kind of environment and have gone on to do better. She says having volunteers who have a true passion and heart for these young people can really reach these kids through Mission Scranton.
While Hernandez has noticed that people in the community present a tough façade and don’t show vulnerability, she admits, “We are there to give them a choice of not having to be tough.”
Her favorite thing about Mission Scranton is the relationships and the opportunity it gives her to help the kids—especially in taking them to church. She takes two boys to a Spanish service and loves that there they are plugged in and getting to know people who love them and speak their language.
Hernandez plans to go to nursing school or directly into missions after graduating. However, she, as is the case with many other CSU students, is making a difference right now, practicing how to put ministry into practice as she prepares for future endeavors.
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—Eszter Listes, Intercultural Studies major