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Feelin’ the Love at Jackie Robinson YMCA

by Shawn Maree McCowan | April 4, 2012

When the Rock Church shows up to serve their city, even the Easter Bunny comes out to help.

On Saturday, March 31, over 700 volunteers from the church teamed up with the fluffy, legendary icon in a “Love Your City” event, in which they spent the morning providing services to benefit the Jackie Robinson YMCA in southeast San Diego. Several crews of volunteers helped to spruce up and renovate the grounds, while others entertained families and kids with song and dance, the gospel story and an Easter egg hunt. As the Easter Bunny made his appearance he welcomed the kids, who grinned as he waved and walked by.

“I’m going to love my city by sharing the joy of Easter and just jumping around for joy,” said Bunny. “I’m jumping for Jesus today.” He confessed he arrived very early that morning, having “knocked out” quite a few chickens” to bring 10,000 eggs, but who’s counting?

As the day began, ministries quickly mobilized to provide an unforgettable morning of fun. Activities for kids included inflatables, cookie decorating, face painting, and making gospel bracelets.

Youth pastor David Robles said, “We are praying that parents and kids are exposed to the hope of Jesus Christ and we’re doing it through a gospel presentation that’s not your ordinary but we’re using Easter eggs.” As a storyteller presented the Easter story, children were invited to the stage to open gigantic eggs, each containing a hidden prop to help explain the Easter story.

Participants also received a care package that included resource information and an invitation to Easter Sunday services.

“I think the message of hope today is that there are a lot of people who can offer a lot of services,” said Rock Church Pastor Miles McPherson. “Pervasive hope means that for every way someone can be lost we want to provide a way they can be found. It’s important to understand that the more people you have, the more different ways you can serve people.”

Volunteers from the church’s relevant ministries were also available for those seeking help in the areas of tutoring, diabetes screening and domestic violence. One rapidly growing ministry at the church is Never Knew a Father’s Love, a support system for those whose fathers were abusive or absent from the home. The ministry provides mentors for kids, financial assistance and a Friday night support group.

“The way we express love to our city is being love to the broken,” says ministry leader Perri Storey. “They sometimes don’t recognize love or can’t receive love and it shows in so many different ways. So we want to be love to broken people.”

San Diego City Council President Tony Young, whose district encompasses the YMCA, said, “The city of San Diego needs a lot of help and really a lot of love. This is infectious. This showing love but it’s something that I think is going to, and has in the past, spread.”

YMCA Executive Director Michael Brunker was especially thankful for what he called a “unique” volunteer effort.

“Everybody knows that southeastern San Diego has a lot of needs and not a lot of resources,” said Brunker. “The thing that’s happened today that’s more unique than any other volunteer project we’ve had before is what I call ‘mission plus.’ Not only are you coming out here painting and sprucing up and cutting down weeds and cleaning up things, what you’re doing is touching kids and families in such a way that only Jesus could have taught us how to do.”

All told, volunteers painted, applied stucco, refurbished playgrounds and bleachers, cleared pathways and removed debris and weeds from an area the size of four football fields. But the YMCA not the only recipient of a makeover.

Lety Sanchez, visionary of the Inner Beauty ministry, and her volunteers did makeovers as well, styling hair and giving free haircuts. Sanchez said she struggled with image as a girl and ended up working doing with some of the industry’s top clients for fashion shows and photo shoots. Seeing them focus so much on their image depressed her even further. She decided to turn her talents to helping teens improve their self-image, starting from the inside out.

“Anyone can become beautiful. With a little bit of hair, little bit of makeup, you can become beautiful,” says Sanchez. “But if you don’t have that inner beauty within, you’ll still see those flaws, you’ll feel ugly even though you’re beautiful. So it’s really working your way in first, then you’ll see the true beauty of who God made you.”

“I like it,” 21-year-old Porshia Green beamed after looking at her face in the mirror. “I really love the Rock Church. They always do really cool things for the people in the community.”

Mom Adele Keller stopped by with her seven children, ages 3-11, when someone told her about the event that morning. “I love it, I think it’s great. They’re giving to the community,” she said, as she waited for her son to finish having a haircut.


The Rock is San Diego’s largest church with over 12,500 people attending the Rock’s five Sunday services. It was started in 2000, by Pastor Miles McPherson, a former NFL player.


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