The first time I met the “better half” of this duo was about five years ago. Mayra Sandoval-Cooper came into the arts department speaking to me of creating imagery out of sand or some such discussion (it could have been sculptures or paintings, too) What I do remember was thinking “this lady’s got passion and loves the arts; I think I’ll see if she can run words for our weekend services.” My job isn’t rocket science.
That was Mayra’s entrance to volunteering. Although she remains a member of the arts team, her first passion in ministry is with her husband, Ken, as the two of them partner to lead Son City Kids.
Son City Kids, I’m convinced, is where Jesus would be spending much of His time if He had come to South Bend in 2001, the year the ministry was birthed. The Coopers, along with their team of volunteers, specialize in loving children and creating an environment where the love of Jesus is exposed to “their kids” and to the children’s parents.
Ken and Mayra have intentionally downsized their business venture in order to lead this amazing ministry and its volunteers into one of the most heartfelt ministries offered through Granger Community Church. Just a weekend ago, the annual Son City Kids Carnival exploded into action again. A fire truck was made available to spray water to help quench the 100 degree temps along with activities such as face painting and water slides. Like any good carnival, hotdogs, popcorn and snow cones were served up…only without the cost. There was no end to the action as hundreds of children visited the annual event.
Here are a couple of stories I’ve been able to dig about these two rock stars:
“Ken and Mayra can be caught often walking through the Monroe Circle meeting with kids and their parents. Ken is like a Rock star of sorts. When you walk through the neighborhood with Ken you realize they all love and respect him as you hear nothing but the chants of kids and parents alike calling out his name, “Coop!”
“Coop walks through the middle of gangs, some of which have grown up in SCK. ‘I know a better way,’ Coop suggests. The boys smile, shaking their heads at this old white guy wearing a lime green SCK t-shirt with a smile as big as Texas and saying, ‘I know Coop.’ Coop can always be found walking through the community making sure kids are signed up for the upcoming events.”
“Currently, Coop took on the head coach position of the SCK sports program after the original coach relocated out of the area. Even after putting in a full day at his business, he makes sure he gets everything together for the baseball game … then he puts on his coaching hat.”
“At anytime you can expect that Mayra or Ken will receive a text or call from the teens they have poured their lives into stating how much they love and appreciate Mayra and Coop for all that they’ve done. For many of the kids, the Coopers have stepped in to assume the parent role.”
“Ken and Mayra are often caught finding and moving furniture to anyone needing it in Monroe Circle.”
You two are changing the community for Christ! You are truly Rock stars in ministry here at Granger Community Church. Thank you!