Buies Creek, N.C.- A mission project adopted by the Campbell University Religion Club has been helping children in Angier overcome the challenges of poverty and inadequate learning skills through an afterschool tutoring ministry.
Operated as an outreach through the Baptist Fellowship of Angier for Kindergarten-8th grade students, the ministry provides mentoring, tutoring and after-school snacks for approximately 10-20 children a day, primarily Hispanic. It is open Monday through Thursday, from 3:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. at the Baptist Fellowship of Angier which shares a building with the Amistad Iglesia Cristiana church. The program is structured to not only address the children's educational needs but physical and emotional needs as well. It consists of 45 minutes of recreation time, 15 minutes of devotion, a snack break time and an hour of homework time.
"The kids just open their notebooks and we go from there," said Religion Club President Catherine Campbell, a senior religion major and Master of Divinity student. Campbell also explained how the afterschool ministry has brought her personal ministry goals into perspective.
"I'd worked in different ministry settings over the past few summers, but the challenge of doing a degree in religion and translating that into a career in ministry still alluded me," she said. "This ministry has helped connect the two. There are a lot of issues in the community that aren't being addressed, that churches don't catch. My experience here has been exciting. I've found an area in this ministry where my gifts can be used."
According to Sarah Young, an English as a Second Language teacher at Angier Elementary, the program has really made a difference. "A little less than half of our students are Hispanic and a large majority of them don't have any support at home, so this has been a tremendous help and a free resource for them," Young said.
Young also observed a difference in the self-motivation and confidence of children who have attended the program. "A 5th grader just last week who was in tears and wanted to go home, went to afterschool program on Monday and yesterday I saw a smile on her face for the first time," she said.
For the second year, the program is being offered during the summer months beginning June 14-August 12, Monday-Thursday, from 12-5 p.m., a crucial time for student learning, Young said.
"The students fall behind on their skills during the summer. Since we no longer have a migrant summer school program, this free program is like an answered prayer," she said.
The afterschool ministry is co-directed by Campbell, of New Bern, N.C., and Laura Baumann, an education major, Birth to Kindergarten, from Huntersville, N.C. There are four point leaders, one for each day, and approximately 30 volunteers from a wide variety of degree tracks, many of whom are not members of the Religion Club.
"One of the issues in working with impoverished children is not having the resources to excel," Campbell said. "A kid who doesn't have the materials he needs to work on a project makes a bad grade. One of our goals is to see that these children have what they need to be successful in their school work, while making them feel valuable and accepted."
For more information about the Angier Baptist Fellowship go to the Web site at http://www.baptistfellowshipangier.org.