As we wrap up another school year — and another year of our Kids Hope mentoring program, we have much to celebrate about this First Church program.
This year, we’re especially celebrating two recent Poly High School graduates whom we have stayed in touch with since they were in the third grade — and now they are BOTH college-bound!
“This is a very big deal for this community,” exclaims Gay Ingram, Program Director. “One applied to six fine schools and was accepted by all! It was a hard decision for her but in the end she chose Texas A&M in College Station where she plans to study psychology. The other student has plans to attend TCC for her basic classes and then transfer to Texas Wesleyan to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher.”
Other Kids Hope celebrations at its annual end-of-school party for 135-150 in our Justin Youth Building included recognizing students who completed the fifth grade this year and will move up to middle school next year.
“This is a very special and proud Kids Hope moment when each child’s mentor presents them to the group and speaks briefly about their relationship, accomplishments, tells a story or two about their time together, and then places a Kids Hope medal around their necks,” Gay exclaims. “The faithfulness of our Kids Hope volunteers continues to amaze me,” she adds. “Every mentor from the previous year returned this year, plus we added 18 new amazing mentors!”
Gay says that each school year she keeps a list of noteworthy happenings/comments that inspire her. Here’s a few from this year’s list that she says she especially loves:
“This is the most important thing I did all last year and one of the most meaningful things I have ever done.”
— Linda Janiak, new community volunteer
“Quite literally, my involvement in Kids Hope has made me a better man.”
— Brandon Karr, long-time FUMCFW member and second-year mentor
“I have taught for 29 years and I have never seen a more dedicated, caring or effective group of volunteers.”
— Ms. Moore, fourth grade teacher from Charles Nash Elem
“Every year with Kids Hope has been a good year,” Gay remarks, “and 2018-2019 has been no exception! Here we come year 14!
Gay also issues an open invitation to any First Church members to consider joining the Kids Hope cause. “While we will have a recruitment day at the church in September, folks are welcome to join us at any time!” she adds. “Please feel free to email or call me (firstname.lastname@example.org or 817.999.8075) during the summer.”
The goal of all Kids Hope mentors is to befriend and nurture their students and help them grow in confidence and academic success,” Gay explains. The mentoring hour is filled with reading, a variety of learning activities, and shared fun that ends all too soon. “We close each mentoring hour by playing a game and sharing a snack and with the reminder that we will meet again the following week — same time, same place.”
Gay says that the T.A. Sims Elementary community is only 10 – 15 minutes from our church, yet it is a world very different from the one that most of us know. And, starting in Fall 2017, Kids Hope extended its reach to support even more children, this time in the more immediate FUMCFW neighborhood at Charles Nash Elementary School.
The Kids Hope USA Mentoring Program of FUMCFW reaches out to children who need help to beat the odds. When a child has a mentor who cares, it can make all the difference.
Research shows that students who met with a Kids Hope USA mentor for just one year improved:
- 65% in educational success
- 79% in socio/emotional competency
- 56% in attitude toward risky behavior
“Our caring congregation has stepped up, showed up, and stuck with us since 2005 to support these endearing children in so many ways. From weekly one-on-one mentoring visits and prayers to holiday parties, teacher appreciation activities, and donations of school supplies, books, and uniforms, our church has embraced both the children and the school. As always, the Kids Hope USA mentoring model serves as a guide, but it is always the people who get involved that make the difference.”
Kudos and congratulations to Gay Ingram and all our Kids Hope mentors, with deep appreciation for the difference you are making in the lives of these children — all the way up to high school graduation — and perhaps having a hand in inspiring them toward higher goals than they may have ever imagined!
“There’s a lot of love in this room!”
— Charme Robards, Community Advocate, regarding the year-end party