Written by Tim Rosenberger   
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 00:00

 

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 Photo by Tim Rosenberger.

 

A small after school program called Weekday Wonders has been serving the neighborhood surrounding Glen Oak Christian Church for the past 22 years, giving children a safe place to go once a week and teaching them important life values.

Weekday Wonders is held from 5-7 p.m. once a week at the church and was created to benefit the kids in the neighborhood. The evening starts with a 15-minute opening at the sanctuary. Then they have dinner for 30 minutes. Finally, for the last hour, the kids play games and activities, participate in outreach and have journal time, each for 20 minutes apiece.

“It’s good outreach into the community,” Hannah Chapman, Weekday Wonders assistant director, said. “A lot of these kids don’t have after school programs and are not able to participate [in] sports or different things throughout the community for different reasons. So, this gives them something to do, as well.”

Another reason the program is especially suited to the area is the great number of neighborhood kids who are raised by a single parent, a grandparent or other family members, some of which work second shift.

Chapman thinks it can sometimes be difficult for these parents and guardians to keep the children active and busy. Weekday Wonders provides the kids with something to do one day a week while also teaching them important ideals.

The program serves kids ages 3 to junior high. The children are taught a variety of Christian values but some in an offhanded way. Ideas like respect, kindness and no bullying follow Christian beliefs but are not solely a mantra of the religion. These lessons also are not always easy ones for the kids to learn.

“It’s hard with our group of young people, because something happens at school and they get angry and both children end up here Thursday night,” Linda Williams, Weekday Wonders director said. “It is hard for them to be respectful and kind to each other. So, that takes a lot of effort on our part.”

Despite the occasional difficulties, the children do experience growth and gain some responsibility throughout their time with Weekday Wonders. Some even come back to help out with the program. Almost 10 current staff members are made up of high school kids and young adults.

These Weekday Wonder veterans work alongside adults who function as leaders and helpers. The leaders are assigned a group of kids who they interact with every week for a given semester.

The program is currently short a few volunteers, which has caused a slight re-shifting of how Weekday Wonders works week by week. The volunteers are needed in the kitchen as cooks, servers, cleaners and general helpers to those in charge.

Those interested in volunteering can call 309-688-3464 or email Williams at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Glen Oak office hours are from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

If the necessary volunteers are not found, Weekday Wonders will not be able to run next semester, Williams says.

Some might be wondering why they have not heard more about this program in the past. Due to the limited resources and space of the Church, they do not have the ability to cater to large numbers of kids and thus do not advertise beyond word of mouth. Over the years, the program has had anywhere from 20 to 85 kids per semester.

Benefits are still apparent regardless of the self-imposed limit. The program not only gives something to the kids but to the adult members of the church, as well.

“This is pulling [people] from this congregation together to work together,” Williams said. “The staff in this program are an amazing staff, and they have given their time and energy to this program, many of them for 22 years.”

Building relationships between the children and adults is probably the most important part of Weekday Wonders, Debbie Anderson, head of the preschool section of the program, says. The child needs to trust the adult before lessons and truths can be taught to them.

Anderson has never asked the kids what difference the program has made in their lives, but she does not think they would be where they are today without it.

“It’s really made an impact,” Anderson said. “We have lots and lots and lots of kids that we might see one year and then we don’t see them again. They come and go, but there are children who come the whole way through and it’s easy to see the impact we’re having in their lives on an individual case by case basis.”

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 December 2013 15:28
 
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