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Kings Club branches out, impacting children's lives

Jan. 20, 2010

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Courtesy Photo
From left: Dallas senior Kelsey Howen and Waco sophomore Laura Karban spend time with a child they mentor through the Kings Club program which reaches out to inner-city children through volunteer activities.

By Brittney Herman
Reporter

Baylor students reach out to the Waco community every Wednesday through Kings Club, a community-wide outreach program with the mission of creating a safe and rewarding environment.

Mission Waco has developed this club in effort to give kids between the ages of six and 13 a "structured atmosphere, outside of any mischief they might get into," said McKenzie Miller, Children's Director for Mission Waco. "I love that volunteers are able to go out and build relationships with kids."

Miller has been in charge of Kings Club for three years now, and since then 10 sites have been added for volunteers.

"It has pretty much filled every major housing part and major apartment complex in Waco," Miller said. "We have had two to three youth groups adopt the sites, but most of them have been Baylor Greek organizations or leadership groups."

This past semester, Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Tau Omega paired up to take on a new site at 15th Street and Sanger Avenue. Service chairs, Katie Griffin and Joey Morisette made this community-wide effort a weekly philanthropy for both of their organizations.

"We started out going door to door ... then, by the end you could tell by their faces, they looked forward to it, I would say it really impacted the kids," said Griffin, a junior from Austin.

Coloring books, finger paints and sports games were the main activities these children would look forward to each Wednesday.

Although these activities were enjoyable for the kids, "building relationships with the kids and their parents is the most important part," said Morisette, a sophomore from Kingwood. "It's nice to give these kids someone to form bonds with."

Alpha Tau Omega had previously been at another location in years past, but recently changed its site.

"We actually had to go out and tell people about this in the community since the site was new," Morisette said. "It was much more rewarding and you could tell the kids were happy to see us."

Both Griffin and Morisette plan to continue building strong relationships with these kids and becoming a consistent role model in their lives.

The volunteers focused on bonds with the kids last semester, but this semester their goal is to bring in Bible study, and incorporate a spiritual message that the kids can take home to their parents in hopes of influencing them.

Kings Club has been a positive influence in many peoples lives, especially kids who attended this backyard Bible study and now work at Mission Waco.

Shay Harris attended Mission Waco as a young child, but now works in the children's program.

"Shay has been volunteering for 10 years, but how she found out about Mission Waco was 20 years ago when she went to a Kings Club, and due to the great care and influence she experienced there, Shay now works directly with the program," Miller said.

Miller said Kings Club is so much more than a place for Greek organizations to volunteer, it's a place for anyone who has a heart to work with children and make a difference in their lives, just like Shay.

Baylor became involved with Kings Club by asking to help and since then, it has been a part of this program through many different service organizations, and single volunteers who offer their time to those who need it.

Mission Waco began 20 years ago in the backyard of founders Jimmy and Janet Dorrell.

"They started Kings Club for the neighborhood kids to come," Miller said. "It's grown over the years, and has become part of our children's program. It's one of the main aspects that we have."

Building strong relationships and giving the kids a solid role model is the most important part of this program.

After three years at Mission Waco, Miller said her favorite part "is to see the relationships that the kids build with the volunteers and those children that become attached to them ... With each group we see it turn into something bigger than Kings Club."