ABHMS-awarded grant funds ‘Homeworker Helper’ after-school program

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 6/11/19)—A grant from the Louise Burchard Pierce Memorial Fund, awarded by American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS), helps to ensure that students receive homework help and an evening meal from the “Homeworker Helper” after-school program at First Baptist Church, Trumansburg, N.Y.

Twice weekly during the school year, students are transported by bus from school to the church. They rotate among church volunteers who provide academic support in such subjects as English and mathematics as well as lead such activities as crafts, games and outdoor time.

Begun in fall 2017, the program has served as many as nine students ranging from pre-kindergarten to grade seven. Most live in a nearby trailer park without running water, heat or safe places to play or gather.

After homework and other activities are completed, parents are encouraged to join the children for a meal. Take-out meals are provided for parents who cannot attend.

The grant helps to buy not only food but also craft and school supplies. In addition, church members donate needed items. On Tuesdays, church members volunteer to bring the meal. On Thursdays, a student is selected to plan the menu and help cook.

First Baptist Church started the program to meet the basic needs—food, safety and education—of the community’s most vulnerable families. According to City-Data.com, in 2016, 23.7 percent of children were below the poverty level in Trumansburg, while 20.4 percent of children were below the poverty level statewide the same year. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 21 percent of children were below poverty level nationwide in 2016.

“Through this program, children are more successful in school, and families are able to stretch their food budgets, thereby eliminating some economic stress on the families,” says Judith Christiansen, a retired school administrator and director of Homeworker Helper.

She shares the success story of siblings who have participated for the two years that the program has been offered.

“I have seen the children in this family become more thoughtful and more considerate, and behavioral issues have diminished considerably,” says Christiansen. “This spring, the fourth-grader proudly showed me his report card. His grades were way up from earlier in the year.”

Homeworker Helper “does give the children a safe place to come,” she adds. “And we know that—at least on Tuesdays and Thursdays—their homework is done, they are well fed and they are shown the love of Jesus.”

Homeworker Helper originated when the church—pastored by the Rev. Dennis Christiansen—participated in an ABHMS training program that focused on local mission.

Grants from the Louise Burchard Pierce Memorial Fund are awarded to qualifying churches in rural New York state.

For more information about the Louise Burchard Pierce Memorial Fund, contact Dave L. Moore Jr., ABHMS director of investments, or the Rev. Cassandra Carkuff Williams, Ed.D., ABHMS director of Discipleship Ministries.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

 American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.