The noise level rises after 3:30 p.m., when middle school students charge into the church building. They come for the Dock Ministry after-school program in Wyoming, Mich., run by Immanuel Christian Reformed Church. Volunteers in their 80s greet them with smiles or arm pats, while the youths head for pool and hockey tables or cozy couches. These senior citizens say visible results in the lives of the youths, many from difficult backgrounds, makes coping with the clamor worthwhile.
“With 50 kids in here, it gets noisy, but I leave here feeling that these kids got something. They wouldn’t come back if they didn’t,” said Hazel Syswerda, 85.
Immanuel started the two-day-a-week program, which has a part-time director, in a converted urban building three years ago with Home Acres Reformed Church. Faith Community CRC in Wyoming also assists. Three community youths from the Dock Ministry have made profession of faith at Immanuel, and others attend services, weekly suppers, and GEMS and Cadets girls’ and boys’ clubs. The kids seem to thrive on the older folks’ dedication and attention. “We get to talk with one of the staff without anyone else, and we can trust them,” said Tyler Miller, 11.