Art Camp at SAMMinistries

On Friday, March 8, three SOS middle school students saw their vision come to fruition as they hosted an art camp for the kids at local homeless shelter, SAMM Ministries. After an SOS event back in January, the three boys, Michael Frere, Niekos Robins, and Rafael Samandi went home to brainstorm ways to serve their community. Now students at STEM Academy at Nimitz Middle School, the boys recalled an ‘Art a la carte’ event from their elementary, Thousand Oaks Elementary, and wanted to reproduce that for the kids at SAMM. We interviewed Michael Frere (MF) and Niekos Robins (NR) the night of the event (Rafael Samandi was ill and unable to attend).

Where did you come up with the idea to do this event?
NR – We had an art camp at our elementary school (Thousand Oaks Elementary) called Art a la carte
MF – and Mr. Samandi introducing the Make it Happen Initiative at a trip meeting.
Why did you pick SAMM Ministries?
MF – We’ve done lots of things here at SAMM with SOS. The first time we were moving boxes full of food and clothes and stuff like that and I saw the impact that SAMM had on the community. That was my first service event ever with SOS.
What impact do you think SAMM Ministries has on the community?
NR – It has a good impact, it is a really good place for people that are going through hard times, like maybe they are homeless.
MF – It’s cool for kids that are at our school, like maybe they are going through something. It’s cool and they can have a place to stay and stay at their same school.
How did it go today [day of event]?
MF – Really good. I had a lot of fun making sensory bottles with the kids and meeting some really cool kids.
NR – It was really cool to do donation boxes at STEM. And our old elementary school let us borrow the spin art machines.
What was your favorite part of the day?
NR – Hanging out and making crafts with the kids.
MF – Being able to talk to people and interact and have a really good time.
Is there anybody you want to thank?
MF – Niekos’ mom [Andrea Robins], Thousand Oaks Elementary for the Spin Art machines, Luke’s mom [Robyn Paustian] for all the sensory tables, definitely SAMM Ministries and Amir Samandi. He was really the one that gave us the idea to do a Make It Happen.
NR – The schools, Nimitz and STEM, all the volunteers, SAMM Ministries, Ms. Hernandez and Ms. Ochoa, our sixth grade STEM teachers, and Ruwani [Tapiador] and our moms for organizing it.
Tell us about Make It Happen:
MF – It can take a simple idea that three middle schoolers can have and then change people’s lives. We don’t know where else we can go when we have ideas like this. SOS is sort of like our sponsor. My main idea is to make this more than just this, maybe at other schools, expand it and make it bigger for SAMM.
This event is part of the SOS Make It Happen Initiative. Students are invited to create opportunities to serve their community in their own ways. Adult volunteers and SOS Staff support the students but the ideas are all their own. Please visit to get involved or to donate today.



Fort Hood Soldier and Family Assistance Center (October 2016)

On Saturday, October 22 SOS helped out at the Fort Hood Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC)! SOSers helped clean and set up a patio seating area and tidied up the gardens at the Center for visiting military members and their families to wait in comfort. Known as Military City USA, our military families are important members of our community, and SOS had fun strengthening our ties to it.


Pittman Community Garden (July 23 2016)

Saturday, July 23rd, was National Garden Day! SOSers helped out at the Pittman Community Garden by tending to the garden and planting new fruits and vegetables. This event brought us closer to our community and to ourselves. As one of our students said, “When you grow life outside, life is really growing inside.”


Sister Cities International Youth Conference (July 2016)

SOSers (and Say Sí and Gear Up students) students traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Sister Cities International Youth Conference. The 2016 Youth Leadership Summit helped mark the Sister Cities International’s 60th anniversary through a specialized diplomatic simulation moderated by the U.S. Diplomacy Center, site visits, speaker sessions, and peer collaboration. Over the three days, the Summit provided students with effective problem solving strategies, leadership skills, and insights into international affairs. Our kids represented San Antonio well and made new friends from around the nation and the world!

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