By Carla Bond
Five students from L. P. Vaughn Elementary School Kids Hope USA program, sponsored by First United Methodist Church in Natchitoches, gathered at Johnny’s Pizza on April 18 for a graduation program. Kids Hope USA, FUMC, and L. P. Vaughn have had a 18 year partnership mentoring students who were identified by the school as needing help in areas of academics, behavior, socialization, or simply some individual time with a caring and consistent adult.
Over the course of this partnership, more than 200 children participated in the program, some for just a year and some for as many as six years. Over 250 church members served as mentors, prayer partners, teacher shepherds or activity supporters. Each mentor and child relationship was daily lifted in prayers by a prayer partner, who would also pray for the family, the teachers and the school.
In addition to the mentoring sessions the children participated in activities at the church and other locations for holiday parties, camps, good nutrition activities, swimming lessons, art projects and etiquette training. Northwestern State University’s Creative Art Department as well as NSU’s Helping Hands organization reached out to the Kids Hope children through various areas of their programs. Sara Kate Shorter, Christine Ferrell, and Carla Bond served as directors for the program over this 18 year span.
This is not the end of a partnership or of FUMC’s care for all children in our Natchitoches community, it is a time to take a breath, assess and rejoice at the different ideas that are already being brainstormed in church meetings. Stay tuned!
Students pictured are Braylon, Christian, Eric, Cedrick and Brian.