Meredith Pike, CSHS Class of 2016
Surrounded by colorful walls and green shirt volunteers, the environment is full of vibrant energy. With laughs and giggles, and the slurping of juice boxes, students bond with one another over snack time and homework help, while others sit quietly under a table and enjoy a intriguing book. It is a place for students to learn and create meaningful friendships. This is one of the many after-school programs throughout Cedar Springs.
“EnGedi Youth Center is a partner in education with Cedar Springs Public Schools,” says Craig Owens, the Executive Director of EnGedi. “We are here to help provide after-school resources that will benefit both Cedar Springs students and the whole Cedar Springs community.” This faith-based program offers students a way to thrive in school while meeting new people.
“In our current location in Red Hawk Elementary we serve 6th-8th grade students,” says Owens. “[Its’] just a safe environment,” says Josh Schram, a weekly volunteer at EnGedi, “[It has the opportunity to] help them with life skills.” EnGedi is constantly surrounded by adult volunteers who are helping and looking out for the well-being of students. “I would hope that students know that the EnGedi team really cares about them,” replies Owens.
Many of the adult volunteers willingly give their time every week to help students continue on their educational journey. This program does not only affect the student’s lives, but it also greatly impacts the lives of the volunteers. It is a way for volunteers to mentor the students and have a positive impact in whatever way possible.
“You get to see them right where they’re at [in life],” says Schram. With the calendar year coming to a close, EnGedi is up for some big changes. EnGedi will be expanding into the high school to reach out to more of the Cedar Springs community this winter.
“At the high school, we will still have an opportunity for students to receive help on homework and studies, but the activities will be much more community-based,” adds Owens. The high school location will still allow for homework help offered by college students. This addition will create a way for students to meet others they wouldn’t otherwise know.
Not only is it a place for students to receive additional help with school, but it is a way for students to take pride in their community. This program offers many opportunities for students right in their neighborhood. “[Students will] be thankful for the opportunity offered,” replies Bryan Taylor ‘15, EnGedi student board member,“Its more of … a social gathering than anything else.” EnGedi will establish a way for the student body to grow closer together, and to create lifelong friendships throughout the community. “It’s a fun, safe, life-expanding opportunity,” says Owens.
The EnGedi program was opened to high schoolers starting on Monday, Dec. 9, and will be offered any day after school. “I want as many as possible to come and share their thoughts, so we [can] ‘officially’ open EnGedi in the high school at the start of 2014,” encourages Owens. This addition will add countless opportunities for the Cedar Springs community to grow closer together. All students are encouraged to come and meet the EnGedi crew, any day after school in the cafeteria.
EnGedi is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and funded solely through donations. If you would like to donate, please make checks payable to EnGedi and mail to 15290 Tisdel Ave, Cedar Springs, Mi 49319. For volunteer opportunities, please contact Craig Owens at 696-1204 ex.1920.