Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An After-School Program in Enid

Enid News staff writer Phyllis Zorn wrote a three-part package of articles about mentoring for Enid's Sunday paper. In addition to promoting the Coaches' Mentoring Challenge and Stan Brownlee's Fifth Grade Mentoring Program, Phyllis highlighted another lesser known but highly successful Enid program. We praise Zorn for her passion for building the community of Enid and offering all of us this model.

Mentoring: More than homework, turkey tacos
Shakara Revels, a third-grade student in Enid Public Schools, receives help from Kimberly Raymond during Zoe Bible Church Kids Cafe on Wednesday.

by Phyllis Zorn
Kids Cafe

Zoe Bible Church’s Kids Cafe serves up activities, tutoring and life skills five days per week — along with dinner twice a week — to 80 elementary school children in Enid.

The lessons learned are more than homework and how to eat turkey tacos. Children in the faith-based mentoring program also are learning they are loved by God and by people around them.

Carlton Burton, senior pastor at Zoe Bible Church since 2011, is director of the Kids Cafe program. In addition, he drives the church bus to pick up the children at school.

When Burton stopped the bus in the driveway of Garfield Elementary School on Wednesday, children joyfully came to the bus, settled on board and buckled their seat belts for the ride to Zoe.

“This is a Christian-based facility,” Burton said. “Each gets age-appropriate instruction. They also get life skills teaching, counseling, and help with lessons.”

The program has four teachers as well as six volunteers. When children arrive, they are grouped into four classes according to their ages.

Most of the children ate turkey tacos for dinner at the same time 18 got lessons in conflict resolution Wednesday.

Students in an upstairs classroom talked with Donna Moreno-Hernandes about how to deal with difficult situations at school without coming to blows. She and the students imagined a school situation where a classmate had become confrontational.

“What can you do other than fighting?” Moreno-Hernandes asked. “How can you resolve the issue?”

“Go talk to the principal,” one child suggested.

“Ignore them and go away,” another suggested.

“What if they jump on you and go bop?” a boy asked.

“Scream to get help,” another boy suggested.

Soon, Burton brought another group of 18 students to the classroom and escorted the first group down to dinner.

The children also get outdoor play time when weather permits and indoor play when weather is inclement. During the holiday season, children develop skits to perform for parents and make craft gifts for family members. A summer program operated by the church is different, with longer hours and more outings.

Cornelius Pitts, counselor and director of The Agency at Zoe, also works with the children of Kids Cafe.

The program began in 2003 and was taken over from a different church that used to meet in the same location, Burton said.

Enid, Okla. — The two-hour mentoring program mainly is funded by members of the small church. It gets additional support from the Regional Food Bank and meals served at Kids Cafe conform to Regional Food Bank standards.

“One of the biggest challenges we’ve had is mentoring kids in the areas of personal hygiene and respect for others,” Burton said. “We really need all churches to pick up parenting and teaching these young parents to parent.”

Some of the computers at Kids Cafe need repaired or replaced. Additionally, Kids Cafe is in need of additional volunteers and cash donations for outings, arts and craft supplies and prizes for the children. Checks can be mailed to Zoe Bible Church, 729 E. Maine, Enid, OK 73701. 
Posted 8-30-14

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