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Breaking Bread, Building Relationships: Homeschooled Teen Brings Hope to Those in Need

Jacob CaplingerWhen young Jacob Caplinger learned that his mother was in critical condition, a blazing empathy was born in him. His father’s tenacious care for Jacob’s weakening mother made a lasting impression on his heart. Jacob remembers watching his father hold his mother in her hospital bed, never leaving her side. 

Through his father’s example, Jacob learned what it means to be a light to others. And he has put that lesson to good use.

Reaching out with hope

Now at 15, Jacob runs a program called REACH, which he founded a year and a half ago with the goal of bringing families together to meet various needs in their community. The program currently has about 50 active members. The flexibility of Jacob’s homeschool education has allowed him to complete eight outreach projects with REACH, including: launching an encouraging card campaign for those struggling with depression and other health issues; facilitating education about teen pregnancy; and collecting toys, bedding, and other miscellaneous items for single-parent families.

Jacob volunteeringOne of Jacob’s biggest projects was in association with a “Room in the Inn” program held at a local church in Tennessee. The program assists homeless men by giving them shelter in a welcoming facility, feeding them, and providing entertainment to help raise their spirits. Jacob would sit these men at dinner and share eye-opening conversations with them about why their lives had taken such a turn to render them homeless. Many had heartbreaking stories of losing loved ones.


A true servant leader

Proud of what Jacob had accomplished, his mother nominated him for the Home School Foundation’s Servant Leadership Award in early 2016.

When Jacob received the email from our team letting him know that he had been selected to receive one of the three awards, he merely saw the word “homeschool” and forwarded the email to his mom without reading it all the way through. Her subsequent shriek of joy brought him downstairs to see what all the fuss was about. When she told him the news, he modestly admitted that he didn’t feel he deserved an award because “all he did was help people.”

But Jacob’s selfless service is no small achievement. We believe the world needs more people like him—and that’s why we created the Servant Leadership Award.

We asked Jacob how he would encourage others to serve their communities. He responded that we must remember that there are many people in the world who have forgotten how much God loves them—or perhaps have never heard. Jacob says these people have fallen into believing the lie that nobody loves them or cares for them. He urges us all to meet this sad reality with a desire to “get out there and give”—to break bread and build relationships with those in need.

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