Church opens doors for kids after school
If you go
What: Open house to learn about The Refuge program
When: 6-8 p.m., Monday, Sept. 12.
Where: Orchard View Alliance Church, 2707 Bond Place, Janesville
JANESVILLE Have a child attending Franklin Middle School or Parker High School?
Need a safe place for him or her to go after school until 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays?
Welcome to The Refuge.
Beginning Tuesday, Orchard View Alliance Church, 2707 Bond Place, will open its doors to such kids who need a place to go.
"It's part of a desire to bless the community around us and be involved in our community," said the Rev. Andy Stumbo.
Tina Wahlers, church secretary, agreed: "The goal at church is to do outreach and get involved in the community.
Since the church is sandwiched between the two schools, the concept of a safe haven seemed logical, the two said.
After some research and discussion with representatives at both schools, it was determined "there are a lot of kids in need of some place to go" after school, Wahlers said.
The Refuge was promoted within the school district, at the two targeted schools, in the church bulletin and at local businesses before it kicked off after spring break 2010 and ended at the close last school year.
Despite volunteers showing up every day, healthy snacks being donated and computers bought, no children came, Wahlers said.
But there are opinions about why this happened.
"It was the beginning of the fourth quarter, weather was getting nicer and possibly they didn't need shelter," she said. "I think routines already were in place and without a whole of exposure, that also probably was part of the problem."
Church members, strong in their faith, aren't giving up.
Parishioners again are lined up to volunteer time and make donations to operate the program. Also on the menu will be snacks, laptop computers, video games and ample space for socializing, reading and doing homework.
"We're assuming a lot of kids maybe don't have grandparents nearby, so we're hoping volunteers can be surrogate grandparents and a friendly face," Wahlers said. "We're hoping we can reach out to them and provide mentors, also.
"Kids can get their basic needs met here." she added. "If they don't have a computer at home or access to the library, we've also got printers and those type of things."
"We just want to be a refuge to all kids," he said. "It's a positive, no-cost, safe environment."