Dornbos came to California with dreams
of becoming a successful actress in the entertainment industry. Sarah wanted
a lucrative career that would enable her to give back financially to the
poor. Little did she know that her life would be the means of giving back
and that she would forever change children's lives in her community and
beyond. Sarah has used her education, talents, skills and experiences to
start a mentoring program for at-risk youth, called Kids Hope at Eagle Rock
Elementary School in Los Angeles, California.
Sarah has worked all over the world. She was trained as an actress in Dublin, she has worked as a teacher in Michigan, lettuce truck driver in LA, and even micro-enterprise developer in Rwanda. Sarah has been placed in a role where she cares for kids and develops and trains volunteers to mentor at-risk youth. Mentors develop relationships with students that foster hope, dreams and love. The Kids Hope program at Eagle Rock Elementary has flourished, and there are now programs running a few other schools in Los Angeles. Sarah's determination and commitment to serve the underprivileged in Los Angeles is impacting communities beyond her own.
We were so inspired with the time spent with Sarah, listening to her story and how her journey has led her on a path in which lives are continually changed and given hope. She is in incredible woman that is living A Life Worth Imitating as she encourages volunteers and students each day. Sarah uses her life to instill hope, confidence and affirmation in others. Now, that's A Life Worth Imitating. #TeamBarnabas
Tell us about the Kids
Hope program at Christian Assembly.
affirmation, and hope! My job, as the Kids Hope director, is to recruit
and train volunteer mentors from and then pair them with one child that has
been identified by the school. Mentors commit to meeting with their student
one hour, once a week, for the whole school year. During the first school
year (2007-2008), we served 15 children. We are now in the middle of our 5th
year and we are serving almost 70 students every week! Our program continues
to grow because of the amazing men and women of Christian Assembly Church
who commit to making a difference in the life of a child.
What was life like
for you growing up?
us about the road you have traveled that lead to your work with Kids Hope.
I've had a pretty incredible journey since graduating from college. I had a double major in Art Education and Theater, with a Missions Minor. I worked for three years as an art teacher in the public schools in Holland Michigan teaching. It was an awesome, colorful, joy-filled job! I also started going to Haiti in 2000 and taking teams there 2 or 3 times a year, as my teaching schedule allowed.
I left my job as an elementary art teacher to go work in Rwanda. I worked in the capital, Kigali, as well as a town in the southwest called Cyangugu. That was in 2003 and many Rwandans were just returning to their country after fleeing from the genocide in 1994. I worked with "Amahoro ava Hajuru" (which means "Peace on High" in Kinyarwanda). Women of opposing tribes (the Hutus and the Tutsi's) were working side by side in my organization, leading the way to reconciliation and peace in their country. It was inspiring and humbling work. I taught the ladies basic tie-dye and batik techniques so that they could dye fabric and sell it. You can see their products here: http://www.amaniafrica.org/about.php
After that, I moved to California to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. I know that sounds totally random, but I figured it was the only way I could make a lot of money that I could give away to the people who had captured my heart in Haiti, Rwanda and Kenya. I had trained as an actress at the Gaiety School of Theater in Dublin, Ireland in college, and got an agent fairly quickly here in LA. I was getting some work but not feeling at peace about it. It didn't seem authentically what I was made for (and I really believe that if we're doing the work we were made for, we feel fully alive, I was feeling more and more dead). So after about 18 months, I decided to stop pursuing acting.
Instead, I drove a lettuce truck for four years and worked at local farmers' markets selling lettuce. I eventually got promoted to manager at the Burbank Farmers' market and that job allowed me the time and space to volunteer 20 hours a week at Christian Assembly in Eagle Rock, which eventually paved the way for a Kids Hope partnership with Eagle Rock Elementary.
the funny thing, there are some days when I am walking through the playground
and kids run up to me that I feel like a celebrity. And my heart smiles, because
God knew better than I did, exactly the sort of "celebrity" I could
handle without my ego getting inflated! God knew how much life and joy this
job would bring-not only me-but so many people involved with this ministry.
I so often feel like Kids Hope is the perfect job for me-it fits my values,
my gifts and my strengths so well-but I would never have dreamed that I would
be doing it when I graduated from college.
your favorite parts of the work you do with Kids Hope?
What does 'A Life Worth
Imitating' mean to you?
What do you think about
"Meet A Barnabas"
features people who inspire others by living a life of integrity. What does
that mean to you?
also means being honest, being the same with people as you are when no
one is looking at you. Integrity is not perfection, but a willingness
to stay engaged, to persevere, to say "I'm sorry, I messed up"
and mean it. I think being a person of integrity takes discipline and
lot of perseverance. That doesn't make it fun every day, but it builds
a life that satisfies in ways that few other things can!