Pursuing a Vision
by Ashanté M. Reese ’07
When Clare Parry left her Kansas home to begin her Trinity education, she was in search of a new set of friends, a new atmosphere, and a college degree. She did not know that her educational journey would lead to the creation of a full time position before she even graduated.
In 1999, Clare began attending Divine Redeemer Presbyterian Church, an inner city San Antonio congregation, where she took a special interest in the youth. As a sophomore, Clare took professor Sheryl Tyne’s course on “Sociology of Childhood and Youth,” which encouraged her to expand her involvement to include the kids in the area who were not members of Divine Redeemer. Clare began volunteering at the neighborhood community center, which led to a part time position. When lack of funding caused the center to close, it sparked Clare’s determination for revitalizing the community, beginning with its youth. She sought help from her church, which led to the start of Teen Night in the fall of 2001. Once a week, the church served a meal, opened the basketball courts, and provided games and music for the area youth.
It was a start, but Clare envisioned something more comprehensive. She wanted these kids to have a full time youth program and something they could call their own. Clare, along with several of the youth who were dedicated to Teen Night, put together a mission statement and identified goals for the program. They sent it to different churches and foundations in search of funding. By March 2004, Clare and her constituents had raised enough money to remodel a house across the street from Divine Redeemer for the program. They named it House of Teens.
House of Teens provides classes that range from cooking to auto mechanics, teaching the kids a variety of skills and piquing their interests. Clare is hesitant to take too much credit for the success of House of Teens. She says she merely facilitates things while the kids initiate the programs they wish to see flourish. She hopes that it “encourages youth leadership and increases opportunities so that they can use the skills they already have to benefit the community and gain self confidence.” Clare’s primary goal is to build solid relationships with the youth she encounters so that she can help them build relationships among themselves.
Ultimately, Clare hopes that the program will continue after this generation of youth grows up. “I have lots of hopes and dreams,” she says. “What’s really important is the quality of what happens here and the quality of relationships that are built.”