Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich., has a longtime connection with Glerum Elementary school just down the street. This summer, for the second year in a row, the church offered a Wednesday evening program for Glerum students to slow the “summer slide” of literacy skills.
“Reading Friends and WOW Wednesdays” ran for eight weeks in July and August, attracting 15 to 20 children for one-on-one reading time with an adult volunteer, a time of Bible memory and learning, and a family meal.
“To see our church basement full of children reading to adults was just a really awesome thing and something that I felt was making a difference,” said Sue Vos, organizer of the reading buddies portion of the evening.
“I wasn’t sure how motivated kids would be to come and read, but I think in our neighbourhood the kids were looking for something to do and somebody to connect with, and so they came,” Vos said. The summer program came from Calvin CRC’s desire to extend neighborhood relationships after more than 10 years of mentoring at the elementary school as a Kids Hope USA church. Now the church runs a weekly after school Bible Club as well as the summer reading program.
“We worked with the teachers at the school,” Vos said. “The teachers gave us a list of all the students and their reading level. When the children came, we could remind them of their book level, and they could select books that they knew were not going to be too hard or too easy but were going to help them progress as a reader.”
The WOW Wednesdays summer outreach drew 15 to 20 volunteers from the church, from teens to retired people, as well as cooks to make the meals. Three coordinators pulled the ministry together: Vos along with Randy Bouwer, the church’s outreach coordinator, and Amie Kett, who coordinated skits and crafts related to Ephesians 6 and the armour of God.