Kelsey with her favorite little monster, Trent.
Kelsey Henson is a longtime staff member/volunteer at Fortress. Even before her first run here as a staff member in 2008, she volunteered here through Legacy Church of Christ in North Richland Hills. Kelsey has always worked with our preK-1st grade age group. Her talents for teaching this age group are evident when the kids welcome her back with each visit and each summer return. Kelsey is a senior at Oklahoma Christian University where she will obtain her degree in Family Studies/Child Development with a Psychology minor. After she graduates next spring, she will be attending graduate school for Non-profit Management. Fortress has made a huge impact on Kelsey's life and she wants to return to the Fort Worth area after grad school to work at Fortress full-time.
Kelsey is the daughter of our Executive Director Terri, who hired her to work in the after-school program in 2008. She credits the joy that the kids bring to her life as reasons why she decided to intern here this summer. They have made such a positive impact on her life, she says.
Kelsey and Trent (pictured above) get along great and have developed a strong relationship this summer. Trent is a vivacious character who is always making her laugh. One day, she remembers, "Trent looked at me and said, 'Man, Miss Kelsey, you have something wrong with your eyes.' I asked him what was wrong and he said, 'You have these dark circles up under them.'" Kelsey laughed and said it was because she was tired from working at Fortress so long! He told her, "You need to tell your boss to let you go home and take a nap." Her boss may also be her mom, but Kelsey didn't think that she would get a go-home-and-nap pass.
Some wisdom that Kelsey would pass to Fortress newcomers would be to "have a lot of patience and love to give away from the moment you walk in the door. It takes a lot of patience to work with the little kids and if you have no patience, then your time at Fortress will be very stressful. You have to learn to let the little things go. Lastly, one of the most important things you can give the kids is love. Letting them know you love and care about them is something that can change their lives. A simple smile and hug when they walk in the door can turn their whole day around."
This summer, Kelsey taught the preK-1st grade group all their bible lessons, starting with Creation and ending with the Resurrection. During most of the stories, Kelsey felt as if the kids weren't listening. "I have been proved wrong about that over and over again. Every time I ask about each of the stories from the whole summer, the kids can say what happened in each story. They all say 'God loves us and we should never be afraid of anything.'" Seeing them learn so much from the Bible has shown Kelsey that God is working through her as she teaches the stories.
Kelsey agrees with many of the other interns that one of the hardest parts of this job is being physically exhausted and getting little sleep each week. But, as the summer JAM program comes to an end, she knows that, once again, the hardest part for her will be saying goodbye. "This is my fifth summer at Fortress and leaving this group of kids is going to be the hardest. The relationships that I have formed with them in these nine weeks have been one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced." Kelsey never likes saying goodbye to these kids who have affected her life for the past five years, but she visits frequently and awaits the day that she will come back permanently to make big waves of change for the near southeast community of Fort Worth.