Leaves of Faith: A New Season of Faith and Learning Begins

Summer went by so fast that it felt like we saw preschool graduations and summer break just yesterday.  However, the leaves have changed color, and the kids at Friendship House are entering a new season of learning, exploring, and growing in their education and faith.  In this issue of the Friendship House newsletter, we will show you all the great things our preschool kids can expect as they move through a typical Friendship House school year.  We will also introduce you to our Friendship House Teen Interns so you can learn more about their work to help Friendship House and South Side Billings thrive.

Little Hearts, Mighty Faith

Friendship House has always dedicated itself to enriching families through vital faith-based education.  One key component of this process is our solid preschool education program.  Friendship House offers various activities dedicated to social, educational, and faith-based growth for kids ages three to five.  Preschool three to four-year-old Teacher Josh spends much time with his class, teaching respect, boundaries, and cooperation to ensure children’s self-regulation is foundational to the learning process.

Having a background in the military and working in everything from sales to the oil field, Josh says he has ended up training or teaching no matter what job he has.  “I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember,” Josh says.  In Josh’s case, however, the lack of proper opportunities and the circumstances of life led Josh down a different path, but after COVID, the chance presented itself to him to become a teacher.  We are so grateful he took the opportunity on us, too.  Josh now leads the preschool program, creating an eighty–twenty approach to teaching.  Eighty percent of the curriculum and time is dedicated to social and emotional learning, while the other twenty percent of education focuses on the child’s academics.  “The reason we focus so much on social and emotional,” Josh says, “is that they can express how they feel so that we can get through that quicker and get the kids back into class.”

Alexandria, Ali to her friends, is the Preschool four to five-year-old teacher who says she likes how the curriculum differs between the classes so that the kids are not just relearning the same material.  Ali says, “Working with kids, helping them grow and develop. . .” is what brought her to Friendship House.  She loves getting the chance to read and pray with the kids.  Having worked with three different agencies, Ali prefers how Friendship House feels like everyone is on the same team and genuinely cares about the growth of each child when they stay at Friendship House.  

It’s also important that kids have a proper introduction to the teaching of Christ from an early age.  To this effect, Friendship House emphasizes the importance of modeling the teachings of Christ to the children in every situation.  Showcasing what it means to be a good Samaritan is an excellent place to start with the kids, says Josh.   Showing the value of boundaries and respect is central to encouraging the Friendship House Kids to follow God while being correctly socialized is a significant first step in the next generation of positive influences and leaders in South Side Billings.

It’s easy to see how much of an impact the teachers have made on their preschool students just by talking to the kids.  When talking to six-year-old Karl* about what he’s learned at Friendship House, he says, “It’s important to be a leader; if someone falls, you help them up and don’t get any write-ups.”  Karl says he feels like he’s been coming to Friendship House for ten years but loves coming to play with the different toys, the tacos, and the sauerkraut Friendship House serves, and he really enjoys playing the game Sharks and Minos with the friends he has made here.  

The next step for our preschool kids is adding the Zoo-phonics learning material to be incorporated into daily lessons.  A tool to engage with the kids’ love of animals to help them learn to read better.  To further drive home the value of these lessons, Friendship House preschool kids will spend time learning Zoo-phonics in conjunction with field trips to the Billings Zoo.  Combining these lessons with classic Biblical stories, like Noah’s Ark, ensures that Friendship House can offer children a chance to truly connect with their education and lessons about God’s word that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.  We are so grateful to Josh and Ali for undertaking the task of teaching these wonderful kids, and we hope you are just as excited as we are for the next leg of their incredible journey.

Cultivating Character

For anyone out and about in Billings this summer, you may have seen the Friendship House Food Trailer called The Friendship Café.  In the past, we have discussed how this trailer runs with the Friendship Garden we use to create fresh and sustainable produce to sell to South Side Billings while simultaneously offering our teens and youth the chance to obtain essential life-long job skills.  We want to introduce you to our teen interns in this article.  This group of dedicated young individuals is the backbone of the Friendship Café, and each brings a different perspective to their dedication and strong work ethic.

Sonia (Sophie), whose mother learned about the position from a Facebook post, says, “I saw the opportunity as a chance to gain experience and open the door to bigger worlds.”  It’s crucial to our staff that these interns have the chance to discover skills that complement their personalities and interests.  As such, the internship offers several options where teens can plug in and be helpful.  Not only is there much work to be done when it comes to the areas of customer service and food preparation, but our interns also spend time assisting in some of the day-to-day activities, such as helping clean the Friendship House building or helping to set up with the yearly Harvest Carnival at Friendship House.  

James (Jaden) has been interning for the past three months and loves participating in the Gardener’s Market at South Park, but he also enjoys working with other kids at Friendship House when he gets the chance.  “The biggest challenge for me,” says James, “is having to broaden my knowledge about gardening, which I knew nothing about.”  James was required to serve Nachos with peppers grown in the Friendship House Garden at one past event.  This meant he and his team had to harvest, prep, and serve everything to a crowd of hungry people while in competition with other food trucks.   It is something of a challenge even for an accomplished restauranter.  

Service toward the community has always been important to Friendship House; that’s why we believe it to be crucial to have our Interns play an integral role in work that will help them grow as community leaders.  Our third intern, Shane, says he loves the part of the work where he can spend time with the kids.  Shane says, “I love being around kids because I think they’re awesome, and I want to express my joy toward them.” 

Of course, as we are in charge of providing direction and encouragement to our interns, the Teen Coordinator, Ethan Hartsock, is responsible for ensuring the interns are motivated with plenty to do.  “For most of them, it’s their first job,” says Ethan, “. . . so they have to step into a role where they learn what normal job flow is like and how to get proper work experience.”  In the future, the interns will spend much time at Friendship House, helping to run organizational needs from the background.  “We want them to be another positive influence on the children at Friendship House as they do their work,” Ethan says.

With our fall Harvest Carnival and all the other Christmas and holiday activities planned, our teen interns will have their work cut out for them.  We couldn’t be more blessed by their work and can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.  

“How we act with a positive attitude and being kind shows the fruits of the spirit.”


“Getting to do the Gardener’s Market is great because we interact with many people and show them Christ’s love.”


“I enjoy all of it. It’s hard work, but with hard work can come a good time.”


Program Gifts

  • Whiteboard makers
  • Glue sticks
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Colored pencils
  • Stickers
  • Clothes pins
  • Playdough

Children 3 – 12 Gifts


  • Barbies
  • Dolls
  • Board Games
  • Customized Jewelry 
  • Dress up toys/clothes
  • Hair accessories


  • Action figures 
  • Superhero toys
  • Remote control vehicles 
  • Sports equipment
  • Building Sets
  • Toy Tools

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