Children at Broadway United Methodist Church are given “KEYS” to Success
Jessie Douglas meets eight bright-eyed first-graders at the door as the school bus drops them off after school. The children are thrilled to see her and immediately shower her with hugs, and chatter excitedly as Douglas helps them get settled in for their afternoon activities. With their coats and backpacks now in their proper spaces, the afternoon can begin.
Douglas has been a teacher at KEYS II for 19 years and, from the gleam in her eyes, she was clearly made for this line of work. KEYS II is an after-school mentoring program developed and hosted by members of Broadway United Methodist Church. Each year, teachers at McNabb Elementary School select a small group of first-graders to participate in the KEYS II program.
“We provide as much love and encouragement to the children as we can,” says Douglas. “We meet each child with a smile and a hug every day. We’re never too busy to stop and give them a hug when they need it.”
Through the program, children are provided a meal and receive help with their homework from the staff and other community volunteers. Like Douglas, the volunteers are committed to the growth and education of these children. Watching the children transform over the course of a year keeps volunteers coming back each year.
“If I can help one kid to be successful, then it’s worth it,” said Jay Collins, a seasoned volunteer. “I know several kids it has helped.”
KEYS II has served children and their families for nearly 20 years. Director Phyllis Russell remembers the early days of the program and is dedicated to continuing the program for future generations of children.
A recent donation of computers, made by Paducah Bank, improved the quality of the technology the program has been able to offer to their students. With new computers, students can now access educational math programs and work on their spelling and computer knowledge.
“The computers have been wonderful. Paducah Bank donated the computers and our church members purchased new monitors to match. The support we’ve received has been great,” said Russell.
The program does more than just provide a foundation for academic success. The children’s physical and emotional needs are also met. Families struggling to meet the basic needs of their children can be sure that the church will help provide for those things in many cases. KEYS II ensures that each student has an adequate winter coat, good shoes, and a backpack.
“It is so important for us to provide for the needs of these children. They need more than a snack and tutoring. They also need affection and the knowledge that people care about them. Some of the children are dealing with some heavy issues and our support makes a big difference in their lives,” said Russell.
The children are given encouragement, love, and support through the program, equipping them to handle the social pressures they face in their neighborhoods and at school.
The program is always seeking financial and volunteer support. To make a donation or to volunteer to provide a meal, please contact the church office at 270.443.2401.