Kids Hope Program Transforms Trials to Triumph
Members of Crosby UMC, investing in youth via the Kids Hope mentoring program, share the blessings of helping students emerge from personal and scholastic struggles to visible victories.
Many will likely relate to Larry’s story. When Crosby UMC launched their Kids Hope mentoring program at a local elementary school last year around spring break, Larry was cautiously urged (he might say ‘pushed’) into being a mentor by his wife, a retired school teacher. CUMC’s Kids Hope USA Director Karen Claunch recalls, “He was terrified during the initial training, had multitudes of questions and needed much reassurance, but they decided to schedule their school visits together and off they went.” Larry was paired with a child (anonymously referred to as Johnny), who had no respect for women initially.
Notes Larry, “He struggled with not having a dad so he really enjoys hanging with me for an hour a week. We review his homework, play games, read, do puzzles or Legos® and this time together visibly makes him feel special.”
“I hesitated about being a mentor at first, but my wife gives me lots of confidence and tips, and since I had three kids of my own it was honestly an easy transition that has been very heart warming.” Within a month, aggressive little Johnny was hugging Larry and his wife goodbye each week.
Karen adds, “It was great to see them teaching their two students social skills through games and hear all four of them laughing when I walked through the resource room last year.”
One year later, Larry is beaming with pride that his special second grader has far fewer behavioral issues and far better school grades. In fact, his student was awarded with a most-improved type of honor just a few weeks ago called the Principal’s Pride Award. Teachers and administrators praised him for doing his homework and having less conflicts and distractions. Whether he’s teaching subtle math skills in a game of dominoes or making coloring sheets with his student to give to shut-ins, Larry thoroughly enjoys his time with Johnny.
“Rev. Peter Miller brought this ministry to our outreach council and we immediately saw the benefit,” notes Karen. Crosby UMC has 27 trained mentors and 27 prayer partners – an admirable first year considering the size of the church (700 members).“It’s brought people age 18-82 together in our church into closer relationships, bridging many generations.” She says the waiting list is significant because the students all want a mentor and the teachers are seeing notable improvements.
CUMC is one of 16 churches with Kids Hope partnerships within the Texas Conference, according to Tracey Bogan, Director of the Houston office. We would like to offer a special rate to all Texas Conference Churches who partner with us this year.” (Call Kids Hope at 832-758-7865.)