Summer at Sunbeam

This summer will be a very busy one at Sunbeam. With a total of 5 teams heading down, time will be spent with the boys, doing work projects, and helping out around the home. Please keep all the teams in your thoughts and prayers for a safe journey and a faith-filled week at Sunbeam with the boys and staff. The following teams will be heading down this summer, with the first team arriving in just 2 weeks!

Ezekiel Lutheran – River Falls: June 14-21

Woodbury Community Team: June 23-30

Christ the King – Indiana: July 6-15

Washington State Team: July 19-27

Iowa Team: July 29-August 5

Please also keep SAM board member Maureen McCarthy in your prayers as she volunteers 6 weeks of her time helping out around Sunbeam.

Sunbeam is always in need of donations. With so many teams going down this summer, this would be a perfect time to get your donations to Sunbeam. Contact Team Coordinator Mel Harmon at jamaica.sunbeam@yahoo.com to get your donations down to Sunbeam to help out the boys. Flip flops, shorts, hygiene products and snacks are always a need at Sunbeam. For a more detailed list of donations needed, click here!

We thank everyone, especially teams for their continued support of Sunbeam. We couldn’t do it without all of YOU! Check back for updates to the Team Travel Schedule for teams heading to Sunbeam soon!

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Spring 2017 Newsletter is here!

Our NEW Spring 2017 Newsletter is here! Read about the latest happenings around Sunbeam. In the newsletter you can read about the boys, hear from our Chairperson Kristy Beissler, Executive Director Sherry Bigalke, and Team Coordinator Mel Harmon. Also read about the rising of our social medias and hear updates from teams that have been at Sunbeam recently. Most importantly, you can read how YOU can help out Sunbeam and how to donate!

We thank you all for your continued support of Sunbeam!

Click Here to see the latest Spring 2017 Newsletter

Spotlight: The Face Behind Sunbeam’s Social Media and Website

I have so much enjoyed working and being in charge of Sunbeam’s social media, that I thought it was time to introduce myself. I am not one for the “spotlight” to be on me, but I enjoy sharing my Sunbeam story with all of you.

My name is Maureen McCarthy. I am 23 years old and recently graduated from Winona State with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation. Here is my Sunbeam story:

My journey with Sunbeam started during my sophomore year in college at Winona State University. I always had my mind set on either studying abroad or doing a travel study sometime during my college career. I was in the middle of switching my major to Special Education then and I came across a 10-day travel study trip that the department had over spring break that was going to Jamaica. This travel study trip goal was to learn more about the educational systems in a different country and building relationships with the boys at Sunbeam.

To be honest, I had no idea what called me to go but I decided to take a risk and sign up! Even today, I look back and I think “what was I thinking before I signed up, that’s totally not like me.”

Wow, all I could say after my first trip was “when can I go back!” it may sound cliché but I came back a different person based on my experience. I not only grew as a person, I broke out of my comfort zone, created relationships with my team members and leaders, and gained a new perspective on life. I had been bitten by the “Sunbeam bug”.

I wanted to stay involved with Sunbeam as much as possible, so I reached out to Mel. I attended the Sunbeam Celebrations, I talked at future travel study meetings about the impact this trip had on me and so on. But through all of this, I wanted more.

In the summer of 2015, myself, two girls from my travel study trip and another college student traveled back down to Sunbeam for the second time. This time, I broke out of my comfort zone even more and decided to stay a month. I gained further connections with the both the boys and staff. I got to see more of Jamaica and be part of the Sunbeam family. I will hold that summer and the memories in my heart forever.

Since that summer, I have remained involved with Sunbeam through many different ways. A friend and myself started a little business selling inspirational quote plaques to fundraise for Sunbeam and raised around $1,200. I helped design the celebration invites, Christmas ornaments, and take pictures. Most recently, I was elected to the SAM Board as one of the youngest members. I am currently the secretary and in charge of all social medias and the website. I also recently just came back from my third trip to Sunbeam! I made a spur of the moment decision and took a place on a team for a member that was no longer able to go. So good to get back to Sunbeam for a week!

I always thought that the only way I could be part of Sunbeam was going there on trips. But I am so happy to continue my love for Sunbeam here in the states. If you would have asked me years ago if I would of saw myself continue to travel to Jamaica to a boys home, I would have said no way. But now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sunbeam and the people I have met along the way have truly changed me for the better. The memories I have made will last a lifetime. To just name a few of my favorite memories: having nightly dance parties with the boys when teams weren’t there, walking down to Gutter’s everyday with Kevel to get snacks and just walk around. Working in the Learning Center with the boys, attending youth group, spending time with the staff, and my favorite; going back to Sunbeam the three times and seeing certain boys grow up into young men. I could go on forever, but this post is already long enough.

I truly want to thank all of you that support Sunbeam. If that is either here in the states or in Jamaica. Sunbeam is possible because of YOU! Thank you to the staff for all you do for the boys and thank you SAM Board for your ongoing dedication, thank you.

One of my favorite things is hearing people’s Sunbeam stories. So breaking out of my comfort zone to share mine hopefully inspired others to share theirs. I love sharing the blog posts, so if you would like to share your story, contact me! I am always looking for more Sunbeam Spotlights for the website. Please feel free to email me at sunbeammission@gmail.com

Thank you,

Maureen McCarthy

SAM Board Spotlight: Mel Harmon

With an unbelievable response to our first spotlight story, we continue on with our Team Coordinator Mel Harmon!

Mel Harmon has been part of Sunbeam off and on since the very beginning. She is currently the Team Coordinator and helps maintain the communication between Sunbeam and those here in the U.S. Mel is a vital part of the overall operation of Sunbeam.

Mel first came to discover Sunbeam back in January of 1997. She was part of a mission team with her home church back then Peace Lutheran of New London, MN. She felt such a strong pull to Sunbeam that she returned with her mother, Executive Director Sherry Bigalke in November of 1997. It was their church Peace Lutheran that introduced them both to Sunbeam.

Mel had no idea that this simple mission trip would lead her to her to where she is today. Mel comments “I went to Sunbeam once thinking it was a neat experience,- never expecting to continue to be involved 20 years later.  Praise God for this opportunity.”

When asked why Mel continues her work for Sunbeam with the SAM Board, she stated “I am on the Board because of God’s call to serve and my love for the Sunbeam family.” Mel also comments on what she hopes to continue to bring to the SAM Board: “My hope by serving on the board is to always follow God’s desires- this ministry isn’t about what I want.  Rather, God needs to lead the way.”

Just like her mother, she has endless memories of Sunbeam over her many years. When asked to pick just a few, Mel says “Oh I have countless memories throughout my 20 years of traveling to Sunbeam; sitting outside on the picnic table at night to watch the stars with the boys, playing hours of basketball each evening, washing dishes for what seemed like hours in the hot kitchen, giving the boys bedtime hugs, watching the boys grow and change.”

In conclusion, Mel adds “I would like to add that because of Sunbeam, I have created a family in Jamaica, but also a family across the states by meeting and working with the most servant-heart, faithful team members.  I am beyond blessed.”

We are all beyond blessed to have Mel part of the Sunbeam mission. We are so appreciative of her constant work and dedication!

SAM Board Spotlight: Sherry Bigalke

Sunbeam’s overall operation wouldn’t be possible without our wonderful board members both here in the U.S. and those in Jamaica. Keep an eye out for a spotlight of each member and learn more about their constant commitment and dedication to Sunbeam.

We start our first spotlight is with none other than Sunbeam Executive Director Sherry Bigalke! Sherry has been part of Sunbeam since its inception in 2000. She first came to know Sunbeam back in November of 1997 when she went on her first trip with her daughter, Team Coordinator Mel Harmon. It was on this trip that Sherry had a vision of a bright future for Sunbeam and the boys there. It was also during this trip that she felt God’s call to become a coordinator of mission teams even before there was an official organization. In 2000, Sherry was approached with others about purchasing and operating Sunbeam. Today, Sherry says the reason she continues to be part of Sunbeam and the board is “God’s calling and my desire to help make Sunbeam be a safe, loving, caring, Christian home for boys.”

Sherry first started her journey with Sunbeam though her home church back then, Peace Lutheran of New London MN, but still continues with her current home church of Faith Lutheran in Little Falls MN.

When asked, What do you hope to achieve in being part of the SAM Board? Sherry commented simply, “educate and share God’s plan for Sunbeam.”

Sherry cannot sum up all her favorite memories of Sunbeam but some that stick out are  reading in the dorms to the boys at bedtime, staying up playing cards with the older boys, popping popcorn, sharing stories and sharing many times of laughter and tears.

We thank Sherry for her continue commitment to Sunbeam and we are truly honored to have her!

The Sunbeam Family

Sunbeam Celebration Live Auction item- "Family" | Sunbeam Boy's Home
Sunbeam Celebration Live Auction item- “Family”

Over the many years of operation, Sunbeam has changed the lives of many people from the boys, staff, team members and volunteers.

It is now time that we want to hear from YOU! If you are a past boy, past or present team member or volunteer, we want to hear how Sunbeam has changed or influenced you. Share with us your favorite memory or story from your own personal experience with Sunbeam. There are so many people out there that have been touched from being apart of Sunbeam so we want to make our website along with our social medias a place for people to connect.

Feel free to share how long you have been part of the Sunbeam mission, how many trips you have made, ways you would love to help or any story pertaining to Sunbeam! Feel free to comment on the website or the Facebook post!

Thank you to everyone that has been part of Sunbeam in some way. We truly appreciate all you do!

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