Everything began in August after our famous summer program concluded. All around us, we felt satisfied we were able to bring Christ to our children and young people of our community. Nevertheless, we felt empty as well, because our summer program was maxed-out and we had no more space to welcome more young people to experience our Salesian charisma.
Knowing that kids were out there without us really bothered our hearts. While sharing this experience with other Salesians, Bro. Tom Mass came up with the brilliant idea to start an after school program to help the children in our community. With that idea we approached the public school next door to ask if something like this could benefit their children. Their answer astonished us! We learned that over 80 children were on the waiting list for the after school program. Knowing this, we started to find a way to offer our own after school program to those youth in the community.
The first thing we did was to meet with experts to see how an after school program ought to be conducted. Then we chose our program’s name, “We Care.” Then we developed a registration packet and a parent handbook. Once everything was ready we hired five young people to help us run the program. The time came for advertising, so we created uniforms, printed flyers and stood outside the school to promote the program.
We literally started with no more than 4 children. Today we have 33 children enrolled in the program. Our schedule allows each young person to come to the youth center, relax, do their homework and have personal tutoring. In our parent and teacher evaluations, we have seen that our children have improved tremendously! The majority of our participants come from low-income families. Some of the parents do not speak English, which makes it difficult for them to help their children with academics. This is why many of their children are not succeeding in school.
The We Care Program seeks to provide children with what they need to succeed not only in school, but also in their lives. It has not been easy to start and now, run a program like this. However, when we see the children that God has entrusted us with, we know it is worth continuing. It is worth to keep looking for ways to keep this program alive. Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to try to make a difference in the lives of the children of our community!
Viva Don Bosco!