“I’ve been coming here after school since Kindergarten,” says Joey, aged 8, about The Salvation Army Kids’ Club in Plymouth. Joey is one of the fifteen students you might encounter on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the program. “On Mondays, I’m sad because I don’t come to Kids Club,” Joey continues, “I like Tuesdays because it’s Junior Soldiers and we get memory verses from the Bible. I’m in third grade and I finish most of my homework here.”
Kids’ Club provides a safe place after school for children, whose parents don’t have other options. The children are picked up at school at 3:30pm and arrive at the Plymouth Corps Community Center for a snack and homework help, provided by volunteers.
Karen Bryant, the program’s only paid staff person says, “They are good kids. The older ones sometimes help the younger ones with homework. All of the students get along well together. I enjoy just seeing them feel at home here, just kids being kids.”
At 5:00pm, a rotation of activities begins. On Tuesdays, Junior Soldier classes provide Christian education and lessons about Salvation Army history. On Wednesdays, Salvation Army troop programs known as Sunbeams, Girl Guards and Boys Adventure Corps provide opportunities for the children to earn badges in everything from first aid to outdoor living. Thursday is Music Mentors day and the children participate in a group choir and individual lessons on drum and piano provided by community volunteers. At 6:00, the children are transported home.
Pauline Norman is a grandmother with three children in the program. “Kids Club is the best program I’ve found in Plymouth. Before she came to the program, my Tajanea was shy, didn’t talk to anyone, didn’t even leave the house to play outside. Since she’s been involved in Kids Club, she tries new things she had never done before. The staff are excellent with her and Tangela and Tanejah.” Tanejah is eleven years old and describes her favorite part of Kids Club, “I get to learn more about the Bible and have fun.” Tangela was selected as a soloist for the choir, “I love to sing and I had never done a solo before. I was nervous at first when I saw the crowd, but I like it now.”
Lieutenant Felicia Lyle says, “Kids Club is very important to our families because they can’t afford after-school care anywhere else. We ask for a suggested donation. If the parents can give, that helps to cover the cost, but if they can’t, their child is still welcome here.”
Ten-year-old Courtney describes why she likes Kids Club in a nutshell, “I get to do homework, play games, see friends. I get to be myself.”