Popsicles, prayer and nuggets of wisdom made for a fun, uplifting day as the School Prayer Force, a crusade initiative of The Porch2, home of the I Am Special Movement, hosted its annual “Ps Qs and Popsicles Life Pack Distribution-Health/Wellness & Play Fair” last Saturday.

The purpose of the neighborly outreach effort is to offer hope and encouragement to students and their families as they aim for a successful school year.

“We want this expression of kindness and care to remind the students that they have value, and their lives matter to us, their neighbors,” said founder and chief education officer Myra Smith Frye.

Frye said the mission of the Prayer Force is to help promote spirit-led schools with fertile ground for learning and development of their students.

“Isaiah 54:13 guides the mission to produce good neighbors by fostering hope and self-respect,” said Frye.

“Isaiah 54:13 talks about children and learning and wisdom; and schools… the one at home, the one they go to every day… it should be fertile ground for learning, growth, development, and productivity. So that’s what the Porch2 is about. We’re not perfect; we don’t have all the answers, but we will work with whomever to make things happen.”

The threat of inclement weather didn’t deter the mission last Saturday as the event moved from the tranquil backdrop of Annye’s Prayer Garden at 1401 Grafton St. to a cozy area inside.

As Frye spoke on the event’s purpose, she reflected on how her outreach efforts began in 2008 when she offered a mentoring program for young girls, right across the street from Annye’s Prayer Garden, teaching them not only how to dance, but how to step in the right direction in life.

“When I started this years ago, before it became the Porch 2, I actually had play dates over there at the American Federation house. I didn’t have girls (daughters), so I had a group of girls to come over in 2008; and since I love to dance, we used to learn how to take a step around the room dancing, but it (also) prepared us to take a step in the right direction for life,” said Frye.

“And since that time, it’s evolved,” she said, noting the organization has partnered with several entities throughout the years, including Autism Moms of East Texas, Take Back our Youth (TBOY), I’m So Marshall, churches and more.

For Saturday’s event, she invited entities to contribute to the Life Pack Distribution, providing toiletries, home necessities, literature and more for schoolchildren ages 5 to 18.

Making a Connection

The overall vision of the outreach ministries, particularly for The Porch2, is to build a sense of community, who comes together to help others and share the love of God.

“I grew up on my grandmother’s porch and, of course, we sat on other people’s porches, but we want you to sit on your porches, too,” said Frye. “That’s because that’s where you learn, that’s where the wisdom is shared. That’s where the growth is starting. Now of course it happens in the kitchen, the bedroom and other rooms of the house too, but the porch, some people you’re not going to let in your house. Some people they can wave on the street, they can see you on your porch. But if people make it to your porch, they are family. They’re as good as in, because that’s an extension of your house and your heart. And so, we just want the youth to know some of that, to experience some of that.”

She said they also want youth as well as adults to know that they are special, which is why the I Am Special Movement has a chant as a friendly reminder.

“He thinks you’re special,” she said of God’s love. “That’s actually a verse in the Bible. Some places say peculiar people unto God, but there’s one edition that says you’re special unto God, and that’s where we base this on.”

Frye said while educators can’t teach about Jesus in school, they can let their light shine.

“I know I can’t say Jesus in school, but he gives me what to say, how to say to give the principles, because the principles are in Proverbs,” she said. “And those are principles for life. We want them to build a foundation on Proverbs from their life.

“We want them to think about the Ps and Qs. That was the way the older people used to tell us, you better mind your manners — mind your Ps and Qs,” she chuckled. “Today, we want our children to be aware of the Ps and Qs. It’s how you act. You don’t have to be snooty, but you do need to be proper and you need to know how to treat other people. So we talk about being good neighbors, good citizens.”

Frye noted that’s the example Jesus gave as he traveled places, connecting with others.

“Jesus is the reason that we should live our life every day. And some people think that’s when the fun stops, but really that’s when the fun starts,” said Frye. “You gotta to live bold for Jesus. Jesus was all that, as they can say… but he was. He went to places and he dealt with people and he never made them feel bad. He found a way to connect with them.”

Frye said the movement is about not only the individual, but the family and community.

“We’re excited about the School Prayer Force. We have people we’re connected to all over,” she said. “Every child has that potential and we have to help them grow that potential.”

Christine Cooper, Frye’s fellow church member at New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, joined in the event, offering parents encouragement as they raise their children in the love of Christ.

“If they teach their children in the way they should go, when they get older, it will not depart from them,” said Cooper, reflecting on the Bible verse Prov. 22:6.

“I’m 71 years old and all the Bible verses that mama and daddy taught us has always stayed with me, so that phrase is true,” she shared.


County/Courts Reporter

Robin Y. Richardson is an award winning print journalist, serving as the county government and courts reporter. She earned her journalism degree from TSU and master's from LSUS. She is the proud mother of one daughter.