Milwaukee Student Continues to Make Her Mark at Agape
Standing out in a large family isn’t easy, but as the ninth of 11 children (three girls and eight boys), Sarah Thomas continues to make her mark at Agape Community Center, beginning as an after-school program participant as a child, later as a volunteer in the kitchen and as a tutor to other students, and currently as a social media guru.
Sarah was homeschooled throughout her middle-school years. She lived just around the corner from Agape, became involved with the after-school program, and started volunteering in the kitchen.
"I learned about proper food handling, food temperatures, and how to cut food, and as a server, I was able to meet some of the other neighbors who attended the meals," she said. "I also enjoyed tutoring the younger kids and helping them with homework in the after-school program."
Sarah graduated in the top-10 percent of her class at Messmer High School in Milwaukee, and then attended the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater for two years. On a whim, she began to take Japanese language courses. Three years later, she completed a minor in Japanese. "That has caused more raised eyebrows than I can count," she laughed.
This fall, she will spend three months in Kanazawa, Japan, a center for international business commerce, for intensive language studies. She is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in print journalism at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
Following her trip to Japan, Sarah plans to return to Agape to promote foreign language learning with the children.
"In this job market, you need something to help you stand out. Not only are you learning to appreciate other cultures, you’re gaining a skill that a lot of prospective new hires don’t have," she said. "That’s something I especially want to do, after growing up with Agape, and now coming back to help with Agape’s social media marketing. I want to let the teenagers and younger kids know that there’s a bigger world outside of Milwaukee, and even outside of the United States. One way you can do that is by honing in on your skills and interests and making them apply."
Her future plans include working in the non-profit sector, leaning toward health-related and social media issues.
"My dream is to continue to work with non-profit organizations in Milwaukee in a marketing, social media and photography capacity. It would also be nice for an opportunity to use my knowledge of the Japanese language."
Agape Community Center arose from humble beginnings. During the mid-1980s, the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother’s (SSM) social concerns committee identified the need for a neighborhood center in the vicinity of their Motherhouse due to increasing poverty in the area. Agape Community Center was dedicated on November 18, 1986, and the first family-style community meal was served that evening to 54 guests. A new 18,000-square-foot facility was built in 2000, and today, Agape is a dynamic place with over 1,500 youth, families and seniors participating annually in a wide range of programs and activities, including after-school and summer youth programs, intergenerational activities, community meals, family support services, community and technology education, neighborhood revitalization, a healthcare center, and a food pantry.
Still guided by the original vision and values of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, Agape Community Center will continue to serve this neighborhood and community by fulfilling our values and mission on a daily basis.
Learn more about the Agape Community Center.
Published October 2014