Being good neighbors...
Kennewick First Pres has a long history of community involvement, and in particular, working hard to be good neighbors. In fact, this summer’s sermon series is called “The heart of neighboring.”
Helping schools and children is a natural part of this commitment. Here are a few of the major programs we are involved in:
Westgate Elementary is our closest neighborhood school, and we have ‘adopted’ it. As a part of that, we have:
Been a part of Homework Helpers at Westgate for at
least 7 years
. Twice a week, a group of church members visit Westgate to help students with their homework, spelling, math, reading and other projects. We work hard to create relationships with the children, make the time fun as well as educational, and encourage their successes, no matter how big or small. We often wonder who gets more out of it – the children or the volunteers who get to see the progress of these wonderful children.
As a part of Homework Helpers, the children who attend get to take home books, sometimes up to 3 at a time. Through the years, over
a thousand books
have been given away. The church members continue to graciously donate books, so there is no end in sight to getting good books into their little hands and homes. The children get to choose their own books and it is always a delight to see them light up when they find those “just right” books to read.
For four years, we challenged our congregation to a
Big Hairy Audacious Goal
(BHAG) – raise enough money and school supplies so that we could give
each child at Westgate a backpack filled with school supplies to start the school year
(this is in addition to our regular Backpack Giveaway). We did it. The project was modified through the years, and we continued to support Westgate by providing school supplies.
We know that during school year breaks, many children in our community may not have adequate food in their households. For the past 10 years we have made a commitment to help in a tangible way. Through our annual
cereal drive during December,
we have been able to give each student two boxes to take home with them during Christmas break. And, while there is sometimes is a debate as to whether we collect ‘healthy’ cereal, or cereal the kids like 😊, we have always met the promise to send each child home with a ‘gift’ of food for Christmas.
10 x 1,000+ boxes = 10,000+ boxes of cereal.
have helped in other ways
at our ‘adopted’ school, too. Members have attended and helped with Math Nights, served as chaperones on field trips, helped to serve dinner at the Westgate Culture night, provided lunch for teachers during student conferences, and we had a member of the church on the ATP team for the last two years.
This year, our Mission Committee approached Westgate about what additional need we could help with. Westgate asked for support in funding students’ T-shirts for the new Ron Clark Academy program they are kicking off in the fall. So,
all 560 students will get a t-shirt
to help the children feel part of this extraordinary effort.
In addition to our commitment to Westgate, for
nearly 10 years we have also had a Backpack Giveaway
a few weeks before school starts.
We hold a school supply drive within our congregation during the summer
Volunteers fill the backpacks with supplies
On a Saturday morning before school starts, families arrive to pick up a backpack for their children; the line is often very long.
In addition to a backpack, families are treated to a hot dog lunch!
This is a well-known giveaway that attracts students from schools through the Tri-Cities area.
Through the years, it is estimated that we have given away over 3,600 backpacks filled with supplies.
One of the moms who attends each year has told us what a gift it is to her to know she will have new backpacks and supplies for her three children.
Key KFPC people:
Pastor Hanna Peterson Shearer, Senior Pastor
Ashley Birk, Associate Pastor
Michael Kintner-Meyer, Elder, Mission and Outreach
Kathy Dechter, Homework Helpers, lead
Kris Kennedy, Backpack Giveaway and Cereal Drive, coordinator, Westgate liaison
Joyce Rodman-- Westgate liaison (newly appointed by MKM).