Builds caring relationships

ONE CHURCH …First United Methodist Church

ONE CHILD …An at-risk elementary school child

ONE HOUR …60 minutes a week that transform the lives of a child, his/her church mentor, and their prayer partner

“It is far better to build strong children than repair broken men,” quoted Frederick Douglas. Herein lies a great truth. Research shows that it is during these early critical years in a child’s life when values are formed, self-esteem is developed and basic academic and problem solving skills are acquired.

With that realization before us, the FUMC has embraced the KIDS HOPE USA Ministry and partnered with Highland Elementary School to mentor at-risk students in grades K-5. This program, which has been in place since June 2000, provides special events, celebrations, and summer enrichment activities, as well as opportunities for spiritual growth (off school grounds) for the children. Evidence of growth and progress has been exhibited in the following ways:

· FUMC/KHUSA program recipient of Lamplighter’s Ministry Outreach Award in 2006 from WCVK radio station in Bowling Green, KY

· FUMC/KHUSA recipient of Glasgow Board of Education Shiny Apple Award

· Numerous KIDS HOPE students have received the Heroes of Highland Award, given to those who exhibit exemplary behavior and performance

· Director accepted Highland Hero Award on behalf of FUMC/KHUSA in 2010. (The first one to be presented to a community organization.)

· One of our graduating seniors, May 2008, is now a member of the armed forces and was honored by his commanding officers, as one of the top 5 in his group for leadership, honesty, perserverance, and integrity during the basic training period. (Article in the Daily Times)

· Through an anonymous donation, each of our KIDS HOPE children have the opportunity to attend Camp Loucon each summer where many of our boys and girls have accepted Christ and/or rededicated their lives to Him. One of our original KIDS HOPE Kids was employed as a staff member at Camp Loucon in the summer of 2010.

· One of our graduating seniors, May 2008, was designed as the KIDS HOPE USA “poster child” for the United States and Australia because of her rise from pain, hurt and failure in school to joy, happiness and receiving her high school diploma against all odds.

· The FUMC KIDS HOPE USA program has been recognized by Dr. Virgil Gulker, founder of KHUSA, at the Director’s National Conference in Michigan, as one of the strongest in the nation. At the present time, a total of 180 volunteers work in some capacity with this program.

· The Leadership Team of FUMC provided assistance for the implementation of a KHUSA program in Campbellsville, KY.

· Grades for 21 students at Highland Elementary School for the first 9 weeks included: 4 Need Improvement, 13 C’s, 44 B’s and 60 A’s.

· A total of 8 new mentors have been trained for 2010-2011.

· Teacher comments include:

o “KIDS HOPE is one of our most valuable resources at Highland Elementary. Thank you for the prayers!”

o “KIDS HOPE mentors are truly wonderful people who are making a difference in the lives of our at-risk children.”

o “We thank you, mentors, for your tireless dedication to the students of Glasgow. We love you more than words can say and so do the kids.”

In addition to these elementary children, we have also initiated a KIDS HOPE and BEYOND ministry which allows the mentors to continue their relationship with these students, through various church activities, etc., as they progress on to Glasgow Middle School and Glasgow High School. Presently, we work with a total of 45 children and youth to provide them with academic support and a positive Christian role model. A waiting list remains!

As a footnote to the KIDS HOPE USA Ministry at FUMC, I share a story with you about one of our veteran KIDS HOPE youth. His story read like a classic case: poverty, single mom with 8 children, abuse, Dad in prison, and a sense of hopelessness!!

Being a resilient child, Doug responded well to his mentor/prayer partner’s encouraging words, academic assistance, and the awakening belief of a future with hope.

Ten years later, Doug graduated from high school, married, joined the Army and his life took a new pathway! So did mine as I began chemo/radiation treatments after being diagnosed with Lymphoma.

One particular Sunday, weak, depressed and weary, I prayed God would show me He was still in control! Momentarily, the phone rang and a familiar voice said, “Hi, Mrs. Irving! It’s Doug! I heard you had cancer and I’ve been praying for you! I know that God can work a miracle in your life just like He has in mine!” “Keep the faith!”

With tears freely flowing, I realized that this little boy in so much need 10 years ago was now a strong Christian who had returned to encourage, mentor, and minister to me, and…life had come full circle!

KIDS HOPE USA – We invite you to be a part of this Ministry of Miracles!

- Marianna Irving, Director, Kids Hope USA for FUMC