During the fall semester, the band went on tour in St. Louis and one of their stops was an after-school program called the Christian Activity Center. Activities there ranged from performing some music to helping younger students with homework and developing a relationship. Usually on these tours it’s not unusual for the band to be at a different location every day, if not multiple in one day. For the first time, this year they returned to the Center the following day. “When our students returned, the students from the Center came running looking for their specific kid from the day before. That bond was there and that was special to see,” Steve Willemssen said.
Right before Winterim, senior Emily Tepe was talking to her dad about the experience when he mentioned it would be a cool idea to bring them to WA to see the musical. The idea resonated with Emily and she decided to run with it. She contacted the Center to find out if there was a mutual interest in making it happen. The kids were super interested in coming up, but there was a financial roadblock that they needed to work through.
Not easily discouraged, Emily was able to get a group of people together to sell hot chocolate and tea in the atrium one day and raised $400 that they were able to donate to the Christian Activity Center! With the donation, three students came up this past Wednesday and stayed overnight at Tepe household. “We hung out and played games and it was super fun because they’re all really awesome kids,” Emily said.
The following morning the students all were able to come to Wheaton Academy and get a tour of the school. They were greeted by a tunnel of students into Mr. Willemssen’s first period class, followed by brunch. The St. Louis students were given a behind the scenes look at performers getting their hair and makeup ready for that afternoon’s show.
One of the CAC chaperone’s said, “The healthy don’t need a physician, the sick do. It’s super incredible when people reach out to the kids, because it’s evident how in need of love they are.” The event was impactful to both Emily Tepe and Mr. Willemssen. “So often I take for granted of all the opportunities we have here and just to share that with the three kids was super impactful,” Emily summarized. Steve added, “It was rewarding to see a student take so much initiative because of something that affected her on the tour and follow through with it. It was neat to see her do it and feel rewarded by it. We do the tours so that we show hope to students that they can serve other people with their gifts, and to see the experience last past tour shows how valuable and rewarding it is.”