When Pastor Kyle Haack of Wheaton Christian Reformed Church (WCRC) was asked to consider hosting a weekly program for Villagebrook kids during the summer, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. “Three years ago, a small group of us from WCRC started tutoring Villagebrook students in 2nd through 4thgrade, focusing mostly on literacy,” he says. “I love the weekly connection with students and the relationship that develops over time. Extending that to the summer just made sense.”
The weekly program, called Fun in the Park, met every Tuesday evening during the summer months. “This program was focused on fun and building relationships between the kids and adults in our congregation,” says Pastor Kyle. “A few of us organize the program and a bunch of volunteers rotate in for a week or more during the summer.” Weekly activities have included kickball, ultimate frisbee, filming short videos, a photo scavenger hunt, improv games and building model rockets.
Outreach Community Center – Villagebrook is a satellite site of Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream, offering after-school and summer programs for 2nd-4th grade students as well as case management services and community development opportunities for those living in the Villagebrook Apartments in Carol Stream. All activities of Outreach Community Center – Villagebrook are supported by Full Circle Communities.
Lathie Norton, Villagebrook Program Coordinator, is thrilled about WCRC’s ongoing involvement with Villagebrook. “The WCRC volunteers have been a highlight of the summer!” she says. “They’ve been a coordinator’s dream – organized, detail-oriented, great at building relationships and respecting boundaries – but also a dream for the kids because of the awesome activities they’ve had a chance to participate in.”
Pastor Kyle has been intentional about volunteering since he started as pastor at WCRC four years ago. “I volunteer because it is a direct way to make a difference in the lives of people who are under-resourced. The scope of need, even in DuPage County, can be overwhelming, but we can’t use that as an excuse to do nothing,” he says. “Tutoring and connecting with a child for an hour and a half once a week is a small way to try to work towards furthering God’s kingdom.”
According to Pastor Kyle, Outreach has provided the perfect opportunity for his congregation. “Our church is involved at Villagebrook because they are our neighbors. We can put our arms around one apartment complex and try to help it rather than become overwhelmed by all that needs to be done,” he says. In addition to tutoring and Fun in the Park, the church has taken donations for school supplies at Villagebrook. WCRC is also involved in the Christmas Store and tutoring at Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream’s main campus.
“Through our involvement at Villagebrook, God has revealed one place where our church can be intentionally involved,” says Pastor Kyle. “I hope that the relationship continues to develop in the future.”