For many people this time of year brings frenzied holiday schedules, road trips to see relatives, and swollen credit card bills. It may also bring unwanted house guests, awkward company parties, and anxiety or depression. Year after year I fall prey to some of these seasonal trappings, but honest reflection reveals that I prefer the holiday season as it now exists and enjoy the “obligations” that accompany Christmas and the New Year; the credit card bill withstanding.

At the end of each year, despite the holiday rush, I fight for time to reflect on the previous twelve months. For me the time of reflection helps distinguish between the temporarily meaningful events and those with enduring significance. So today, December 31, I sit at my Stewart Center desk to secure the memory of important events and to say goodbye to many pleasant, and some unpleasant, elements of the Andrew P. Stewart Center 2012.

In 2012 the Stewart Center engaged over one hundred children in summer camp activities, took six middle school students to New York City, established a food cooperative, hosted multiple fundraising events and secured the necessary resources for next year’s pilot reading initiative. While these and other accomplishments are worthy of recognition there are three elements of this year’s ministry that carry the most significance for 2013 and beyond.

Converting the program director’s position from part time to full time was a major progression for the organization that will greatly enhance the Center’s presence in our community. Although Megan has been serving full time for over a year, fully funding the permanent position provides the Center with the leadership and continuity necessary to pursue aggressive goals such as the reading initiative and a second ministry location.

This summer, for the first time in many years, the Center engaged in ministry outside of the Reynoldstown neighborhood. In addition to our eight week camp in Reynoldstown we also hosted two weeks of camp in the Pittsburgh community of south Atlanta. The two week camp was the first step towards engaging Pittsburgh in what will hopefully be a long-term ministry relationship.

While the aforementioned accomplishments carry great significance, it was the collective effort of everyone involved with the organization that helped expand and enhance the Center’s ministry in 2012. This year we employed the most proficient after school and summer staffs since I have been here. We utilized a large number of volunteers that added value to the programming while being conscious of our ministry model. Our board of directors provided strategic guidance and oversaw successful fundraising efforts while our individual, church and community supporters increased their giving and enlisted new partners.

The Center is a small organization but a large family. While engaging children, youth and families in the Reynoldstown and Pittsburgh communities of Atlanta we partner with staff, volunteers and supporters from all over the city, state and nation. I am amazed when I think of all the people that have come through the Stewart Center in 2012. I sit here today physically cold- the Center is poorly heated- but warm of heart because of the significance of the Center’s ministry and the enduring commitment of those that love the Center and care about its mission. If you have been a part of the Center’s ministry in any way during 2012 please know that we are very appreciative of your involvement and count you as a member of the Stewart Center family.

Happy New Year,