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.



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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China Trip (July 2016)

SOS led a group of 27 student ambassadors on a cultural exchange program to China. The students explored Beijing, Shanghai, and San Antonio’s Sister City, Wuxi. SOS first stopped in Shanghai, where they got to see the Shanghai and Pearl Tower, take in the beauty of the Yu Garden, and participate in a silk weaving workshop. They then made their way to our Sister City, Wuxi, to visit and interact with students from the Golden Bridge Middle School, see the Lingshan Grand Buddha, and serve at a school for special needs. After visiting Wuxi, SOS traveled to Beijing. They explored the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, and hiked the Great Wall of China. This trip was a huge success and our students learned a lot! For more information, please visit the Pengyou Blog on our website.

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Costa Rica Trip (June 2016)

Our first group of travelers have recently returned home from Costa Rica ! They had the opportunity to visit Poás Volcano, La Fortuna Waterfall, Lake Arenal, and many more beautiful locations in Costa Rica. SOS travelers also planted trees in the rainforest of Guanacaste and served at the Escuela Cañas Dulces. The trip was amazing and was a great way to kick off a summer of service and traveling for SOS! Pura Vida!

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