Responding to the educational repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., started a Homework Club for students in their community.
When the Grand Rapids Public Schools opened with only online learning for the first nine weeks of this academic year, First CRC member Shelly Ydenberg thought students and families could use the support. She said she noticed that the weeks of virtual school in the spring term caused much stress on families.
Ydenberg hopes that providing a safe environment for students to do some of their school work will give the adults tasked with supervising their children’s education at home a break each day. While ensuring that students’ educational needs are being met, she hopes also to “enhance the relationships that the church already has with many of the students through Fellowship Night at First” or through the Kids Hope program at one local school. This service is one example of how First CRC cares about and is committed to social justice, Ydenberg said.
Fifteen or more volunteers from First sign up for two-hour time slots Monday through Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to supervise K-12 students at the church. Ydenberg said a volunteer “only needs a heart for kids and a desire to show the love of Jesus to others.” The volunteers help with all subjects as needed.
The church is asking participants to follow safety protocols including daily health screening, mask wearing, social distancing, and hand sanitizing to mitigate potential spread of the coronavirus. No more than eight students are allowed in any room along with at least two adult supervisors.
Members of the church invited students to participate by dropping off goodie bags with information about the club to families already connected to First CRC. They also posted street signs and welcomed participants to invite others by word-of-mouth. About 16 students are currently participating. Ydenberg said, “For a brand-new program that has to go with the flow—you never really know who is going to show up—I think it is going pretty well.”