Focused on others

News | January 18, 2024

Lifelong member Sarah Lammers credits the St. Paul youth program for many positives in her life – a close mentor, deep friendships, a sense of independence, a broadened worldview, among others. And it’s just those kinds of things that Sarah wants to help bring to other young people at St. Paul.

Seeing and feeling seen
Sarah, a second-grade teacher at Cody Elementary School in Pleasant Valley, wears many hats and fills many roles that make St. Paul a fun and fulfilling place for kids in all phases of life. A typical Sunday at St. Paul may start with Sarah preparing the classroom and gently guiding and encouraging the Pre-K and Kindergarten class during the learning hour. After attending the 11:15 a.m. Open Spirit service, Sarah will take a little time to herself before returning that evening for Sunday Night Live with the high schoolers. From the youngest kiddos to those about to leave for college and beyond, Sarah plays a large role in the lives of St. Paul kids.
“I know how important it is to feel seen as a young person so I work hard to make kids of all ages feel seen and connect with them. I learn a lot from them, too. The high schoolers I work with in youth group and the littles I work with on Sunday mornings and at Cody Elementary all have a unique and insightful view of the world. It’s valuable to connect with them,” Sarah said. “Working with the high schoolers and learning about their struggles and challenges makes me think back to my time at that age and the support I needed then and how I can give them that support now.”

In 2022, when the St. Paul youth program was in transition, Sarah, along with Jamie Carroll, stepped in to help carry the youth program through a trying time.

“I had been a little hesitant to come back to church as an adult but looking back, the youth needed me as much as I needed the youth during that time. I knew I was meant to be here at St. Paul at this particular moment. It was impactful to have this outlet when I was in high school and I wanted to make sure the kids, who were going through a lot of change at that point, knew they were supported. Our goal that summer was to have fun. That’s what the kids needed. We needed to meet, to be at church together, to listen and play games. The biggest takeaway both from my time entering the youth program and coming back as an adult is to show up even when you’re uncomfortable.”

Life-changing experiences
Sarah’s time with St. Paul youth was formative in her teens. She exudes energy and excitement when reflecting on mission trips, the ELCA youth gathering, and the way these experiences broadened her worldview.

“It’s so important, as a young person, to have experiences that show you how the world really is. Mission trips give you a new perspective on the world around you. You see people who live a different life than you and see different parts of the world. You leave these experiences having an appreciation for the life you have and that’s something that doesn’t come as easily when you’re young. For one week, you’re doing things for other people. These trips are special for many reasons. There is also something especially unique about the bonds created during mission trips, both with the kids and the adults. That bond becomes so strong when you’re working alongside someone to help others.”

St. Paul director of children’s ministries and fellow lifelong St. Paul member Maddy Carroll and Sarah became close friends in high school and continue to be friends today. In fact, Maddy was one of the people who encouraged Sarah to make her way back to the youth group.

“St. Paul has been a big part of my life during transitions. It’s not always something I’ve initiated myself but I always find my way back. In high school, my dad encouraged me to get involved. Then when I graduated from college and moved back home, I didn’t have much of a support structure outside of my family. That’s a challenging transition time for most people. Maddy and I reconnected and she, along with others, encouraged me to get back into it.”

During Sarah’s time in the program, while attending mission trips and SNL, she learned to lean on other people and find positive mentors in her life. Sarah and St. Paul youth volunteer Stacy Hornbuckle shared a special connection that continues to grow.

Says Stacy: “Sharing wonderful things about Sarah Lammers is easy. I met Sarah in early high school when she was in youth group with my daughter. Sarah has always been family-oriented but it’s been special to see her become the independent person she is. She used to be shy but her shyness has grown into womanly grace,” Stacy beamed about Sarah. “One thing that has not changed is that Sarah has always been outwardly focused, always focused on helping and supporting others. That makes her the perfect person to work with kids.”

As Sarah looks forward to the future with plans of travel, she continues to keep her eyes focused forward and on others.

“The mentorship and the support the youth program provided continues to resonate and is something I want to pay forward to others; To be that support and that listening ear for our youth.”

One comment on “Focused on others”

  • Joan Hovey

    January 20, 2024 at 4:09 pm

    Sarah is my granddaughter. I was so happy when Lisa and Scott chose to make St. Paul their church after visiting many others. Sarah has literally grown up there. She is passionate about working with young people. I am pleased that she has a giving heart and chooses to help in this capacity.

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