Get to know SOS Builds and Ally!

Last winter, the SOS staff began dreaming with Cornerstone Prep, the BDC and the Carpenter Art Garden about a way we could engage urban students' classroom knowledge with vocational skill. Through many meetings, lots of prayer and some quality elbow grease, SOS Builds was born.


We launched a pilot program in the spring and brought around 20 4th and 5th grade Cornerstone Prep students to SOS to construct 2 rather beautiful dog houses. You can read about our pilot program and see the completed pet residences and their proud builders HERE. After a successful first run, the SOS Builds program was on it's feet and needed a Director.

Enter the incomparable Ally Velderman. Ally hails from Holland, MI, graduated from Hope College with a bachelors in Political Science. She is a graduate of the SOS Academy, class of 2013. While in the Academy, she interned with World Relief working to resettle refugees who've been placed in Memphis. In the spring of this year, she returned to Memphis to help SOS out in between Camp Directors and we couldn't let her go. Her gifts of leadership, organization, and passion for the community of Binghampton make for a perfect fit for the role of SOS Builds Director!

Read more about Ally's love for Memphis and her first days with the SOS Builders!

What drew you to the SOS Academy?

I heard about the Academy on a Spring Break trip sophomore year of college and remember thinking that it was something I should/wanted to do before "real life" -- to learn how to live the Gospel holistically. I kept it in the back of my mind through the rest of college and then one day just thought, aka Holy Spirit said, "Ok. now's the time". (TOTALLY God bringing me to it -- not something I would have done on my own.) I just loved the idea of jumping in and living among social issues and community development initiatives that will be in my grandkids' history books.

You love Michigan and those UP (i.e. Upper Peninsula) summers. How did Memphis steal your heart?

I was instantly given a really sweet community here (#bam/#jibam) through the SOS Academy. I absolutely LOVE SOS and the communities of Binghampton & Orange Mound so much. This is simply a really fun city with a lot of positive things going on and a lot of fun things to do. I love the Memphis mix of pride and grit and work being done. Also, Bryant's.

Share one memorable moment from your first SOS Builds meeting.

Watching the Builders hammer the first nails in the Builds Board and recognizing that one day this board could be like that first Say So cross in the back of the chapel. Also, driving the CUMC 14 passenger bus down the middle lane of Poplar Ave between a MATA bus and a soccer mom in huge SUV and going white knuckle realizing there was surely not enough lane width for the three of us.

What are you most excited about SOS Builds for this year and into the future?

This year I'm pumped about learning from mistakes and successes and seeing what works. I'm eager to see God use it and lead us. I'm excited to introduce this vision to the community, to work with ministry partners and industry experts and launch this collaboratively, and to be a steady, loyal, encouraging presence in the lives of our Builders.

Long term, I'm prayerful and hopeful in growing the program into a strong branch of SOS ministry. I want to see one kid commit their life to Jesus, to see one kid launch into a career in the construction industry because of Builds, and to grow the program up and include high schoolers.

Pray with us for this beginning season of SOS Builds. Pray for our Builders, for Ally, for our partnerships with Cornerstone Prep and the Carpenter Art Garden.