A Heart for Missions
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of PE News articles on people in the Assemblies of God under the age of 20 who are making an impact in their communities.
In just eight years, Josh Golembiowski, an 18-year-old high school senior with Down syndrome, has raised $44,000 to give to nonprofit organizations and to missions through his annual “Give Back Campaign.” On average, he has procured $3,000 annually in donations — plus donated $1,750 a year of his own money.
Josh began his campaign with the help of his parents — Cheryl and Chris Golembiowski — when he was just 10 years old. He was well known around Rockwood, Pennsylvania, but his family recently moved three hours east across the Keystone State to Red Lion, where Chris became lead pastor of Windsor Assembly of God.
Cheryl says several attendees at Windsor AG already have expressed a desire to help Josh with his “Give Back Campaign.” The high school he attends, just a month after his arrival, welcomed Josh onto the football field as an honorary team member for the homecoming game.
Josh’s condition has limited what he can do physically, and contact sports such as football aren’t an option. He has undergone more than 30 surgeries, including his first open-heart surgery at just 3 months old. Other complications arise from his disability, including a struggle with obesity, a weakened immune system, and acid reflux.
“He’s stubborn, but I think that stubbornness is an asset for him,” Cheryl says. “It’s made him a fighter.”
From a young age, Josh has been passionate about missions. Cheryl says Josh gets most of his money as gifts, and that other than eating out, all he wants to do with it is give it away.
Josh began giving when he was 2 years old to Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge, but that was just the beginning.
Josh has received help from organizations like the Make-A-Wish foundation and Nickers N’ Neighs, a therapeutic riding stable. Wanting to give back, Josh, with the help of his parents, started his campaign to raise money for organizations, including Speed the Light.
Each year, Josh and his mother team up to send out letters to raise money. Cheryl writes the letters, Josh signs them, addresses them, and stuffs the envelopes. Since the beginning of the campaign, Josh has raised $4,400 for Speed the Light, $1,000 of which came from his own pocket.
John Sproull, a longtime family friend, says Josh always finds ways to be a part of what happens around him. Sproull recalls standing in an aisle during a church service preparing to take an offering. When he opened his eyes after the offering prayer, Josh stood by his side, wanting to help pass the bucket. Sproull says on Sundays Josh mounts the stage immediately after the service to help musicians put away their equipment.