January 14, 2022

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” – Romans 15:1

Ryder Kilam is a 5-year-old kindergarten student who loves school. Like any young child, he loves to play with his classmates and enjoys learning. Getting to school is sometimes a difficult journey for Ryder. He requires a wheelchair for mobility. Most mornings, Ryder is pushed to the end of the driveway by one or both of his parents and they wait for the bus to pick him up. This is fine when the weather is nice, but when it is raining or snowing, it is difficult for Ryder to make a quick trip from the house to the bus.

Ryder’s parents have tried several things to keep him dry on days with inclement weather. One day, Ryder’s dad asked his friends on social media if anyone had an old, large patio umbrella. He thought this might be large enough to put up on mornings when Ryder needed to wait for the bus in the rain or snow. Dan McKena, a local high school construction technology teacher, decided his class could help.

Dan reached out to Ryder’s family to see if they could build him something special, as a class project. With a $300 donation from Home Depot and some funds from Ryder’s parents, the class went to work. The students put in extra time on the project to make sure it would be ready before the winter cold arrived. It was not just a class project, but an expression of kindness from all the students involved.

It took some time, but the shelter was complete. The students and adults put the new shelter next to the street and placed a sign above it that read, “Ryder’s Bus Stop.” It is a beautiful shelter, meeting ADA requirements. Ryder and his family can wait for the bus in relative comfort. Ryder is so proud of his bus stop that he even stays in his new shelter after school. It is far more to him than just a place to wait for the bus. It is his fort (and every kid needs a good fort).

Ryder and his family went from being inconvenienced on days with bad weather to being blessed by their community. Parents, teachers, and students all helped to create a place to keep Ryder dry and warm. They also created a place where he could go and know that he is loved and cherished. This is what happens when we use our gifts and our time to bless others. Efforts like this for Ryder are how we come together to build a better world.

– Rev. Keith King, Pastor of Worship