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Church Serving Riverwest and Harambee Offers Summer Program for Kids

by Sonya Jongsma Knauss

Every summer the vacant lot on the southwest corner of Clarke and 2nd Streets is transformed into a large, bountiful garden. All Peoples’ Church, adjacent to the lot, is responsible for this feat. With help from neighborhood kids and adult volunteers, the Kids Working to Succeed (KWTS) program provides vegetables to many in the church and neighborhood and helps clean up the blocks surrounding the church. Greg Van Dunk, one of the pastors at All Peoples, started the program 12 years ago to help young people learn work skills, save money, and become part of a church community. He describes KWTS as “a valuable program for families who are seeking a church home and Christian nurture for their children.” About 50 children age 8-16 participate in KWTS during an average summer. Kids age 10 and up each earn more than $200 in about 20 work mornings spread over the summer. Kids learn to work as they participate in various tasks in the vegetable and flower garden and by picking up trash in the neighborhood. Participants include Latino, African, and European American youth and children. “We’re guided by three simple goals in this program,” Van Dunk says. “First, to unite young people with Jesus Christ through our church community; second, to help young people begin to develop life skills for work — a positive work ethic, learning to be on time, and having a good attitude for work; and third, to help young people learn to save money by starting a bank account.” As an incentive, kids who save their money get an extra bonus at the end of the summer. KWTS begins promptly at 9 a.m. and concludes after lunch at 11:30 a.m. To be eligible, families must participate in worship at All Peoples Church. The first work day is Saturday, May 25. The summer version of the program concludes the second week in August, but the program continues one Saturday each month during the school year. All participants are given the opportunity to attend a week of summer Bible camp. Scholarships from Crossways, Lutherdale and Indian Sands Lutheran Bible camps pay eighty percent of the costs. The kids and the church contribute the rest. Sign up for KWTS by calling Greg @ 264-1616. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 3 – April 2002