Why Are After School Clubs Important?
Carol James and Pastor Kenneth Washington have decades of experience working with the families around Nitsch Elementary and have supported Bridging For Tomorrow from the beginning. They were advocates for the Values Club, an after school club that taught students at Nitsch how integrity could help them succeed, and were both instrumental in the creation of the new Bridge of Hope Club.
Carol and Pastor Washington describe this community that they know and love as woefully underserved. Many of the households are living below the poverty level, are uneducated, and have little hope that their circumstances could change. Over the last few years they have seen a significant increase in the number of at-risk children. These children do not have safe and stable homes and lack access to things that many of us take for granted like personal care items, clean clothes, or shoes that fit. When someone doesn’t have the most basic necessities, they feel like less of a person. Children need safe havens in the community where they can feel secure and cultivate a sense of self-worth. That is why Carol and Pastor Washington believe that after school clubs are so important. They provide a place where children can build relationships with caring adults who can help them imagine a better future and develop the skills they need to make that future a reality.
The Bridge of Hope Club has been meeting at his church for less than a year, but already Pastor Washington can see the impact it’s making on the kids who participate. They know that they are a part of something important and that makes them feel whole. He lovingly describes them as “little giants” who are going to make a big difference in the community. If you ask Carol or Pastor Washington what their dreams are for the future, both will tell you that they want to expand the Bridge of Hope Club so we can reach more kids. After years of experience, they know the importance of perseverance and hope, even when the task seems daunting. Carol put it this way, “You have to choose faith, not fear. We can’t let fear of what we can’t do stop us; we can only start with what we have. I have children and I know that they are going to benefit from everything we do, even if they don’t live in this community.” Together we are making a big difference, one child at a time.