In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18). What a joy it is when a child walks through our doors to experience God’s gift of love. Love produces empathy, which is exactly what was needed to help our students embrace the extended school year. The extra few months in the classroom proved to be challenging for many students in East St. Louis. Nevertheless, our CAC students remained optimistic and soon realized the importance of the school district’s decision. The CAC remained flexible to the needs of the school district and provided a hybrid blend of virtual learning in the morning and after school programming.
The COVID capacity restrictions along with space limitations due to building repairs reduced the number of kids we could serve and therefore caused many of our students to be placed on a waiting list. Needless to say, it did not stop us from making a difference. Approximately 80 kids attended our after-school program on a regular basis. Listed below are just a few of the wonderful things we experienced on a regular basis:
The Kids 4 Christ (elementary kids) loved memorizing the scripture of the week. So much so, they occasionally made them into a song with choreography. You couldn’t help but to smile when they realized they were fearfully and wonderfully made by God!
Our kindergarten through 2nd grade students continued learning Spanish in a virtual setting. Their comprehension of the language continues to be quite impressive!
The warm weather got the students excited about agriculture. They planted over 1,500 plants in the garden, which consisted of fruits and vegetables, spices, and flowers for organic pest control.
Two students began the SOAR into STEM program with Wings of Hope, where they are taking classes in mechanical engineering, piloting planes, and humanitarian aviation. They will participate in flight simulation, build a plane engine, receive a personal tour of the hangar, and receive one-on-one mentorship from someone in the aviation field.
CAC students are often recognized for outstanding character. This was the case when R3 Development selected Keveon to participate in their 8-week summer internship program. The program provides students access to the trades which has become a great need in our economy.
There is so much more that I could share, but please know that you are making a huge impact through your volunteer hours and financial support. We will not let this short summer break keep us from giving our students a chance to experience new things. Our summer program offerings will include vacation bible school, STEM, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, construction workshops from R3 Development, and recreation trips. We will also hold sessions on youth and law enforcement interactions, male/female empowerment, and more. We truly believe these impactful programs will pay significant dividends for our children.
Another highlight of the second quarter: the 14th Annual Golf for a Brighter Future tournament! Thanks to everyone who participated, we raised a record $74,482! We're immensely grateful to Northwestern Mutual Fairview Heights for their ongoing support and for being the presenting sponsor again this year.
Speaking of impact, I am always excited when a CAC alumni is doing great things. Antwan, a former student in our Spanish program and two-time mission trip veteran, received a job teaching coding and will begin volunteering to teach a virtual coding class to expose our students to a career in coding. He, along with his colleagues, hope to organize a city-wide coding camp through which CAC members can participate.
We are committed to ensuring our children have a well-rounded experience. That includes serving their families and those in the community. We minister to our kid’s families by providing them with access to quality programs and healthcare advocacy. One of those programs includes the online high school program for adults. During this quarter, 29 new students enrolled in the program, bringing our active enrollment up to 129 students. Eight students graduated with their diploma, resulting in 22 students graduating this calendar year. Since program inception, 91 students have graduated and 53 graduates have either enrolled in a post-secondary program, obtained employment, or higher paying employment.
With our community partner, SCORE International, we were able to host a two-day health and wellness event. Vendors from local universities, the Air National Guard, and other non-profit organizations provided health screenings such as blood pressure testing, diabetes testing, COVID vaccinations, and other literature to address these health concerns. SCORE International also tended to the spiritual needs of those who desired prayer and spiritual counseling.
The spiritual welfare of our children and the community in which we serve remains a top priority at the CAC. We pray for their spiritual welfare because prayer changes things! It impacts them spiritually, academically, emotionally, physically, and economically. Not only does prayer impact them, but it also impacts the staff at the CAC. Prayer gives us the courage to address the educational and economic disparities our children face simply because they live in a certain zip code.
In closing, I ask that you continue to support us through your contributions and in-kind giving, because your gifts make a monumental difference. But more importantly, pray that we will continue to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; remembering that our labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58).
All for God's glory,
Jeffrey A. Williams, PhD
Christian Activity Center