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En Gedi Youth Center to open at City Impact in Cedar Springs

En Gedi Youth Center to open at City Impact in Cedar Springs

En Gedi, a local Cedar Springs Christ-centered non-profit organization established in 2009, has been providing a free after-school youth center for students in grades 6-8 for several years. It was previously housed at Red Hawk School but unable to open this fall due to the recent COVID guidelines for schools and outside organizations. 

The En Gedi Team recently met with City Impact Co-Directors Jonathan and Kelley Bergsma. With both organizations sharing in a common mission to serve our Cedar Springs Area, City Impact Board of Directors and En Gedi Board of Directors were eager to explore options for continuing the En Gedi after-school program at the City Impact facility located at 288 N. Main Street in downtown Cedar Springs. 

With both En Gedi and City Impact supported solely on local donations from area businesses and community members, they remain seated firmly in their faith this arrangement can work through the grace of God.  En Gedi’s annual fund-raising auction held each spring had to be cancelled in 2020 but is tentatively rescheduled for March of 2021. 

The Youth Center Executive Director Pastor Craig Owens will continue to oversee the program currently scheduled to begin on Monday, October 12 and run from 2:30 to 5 pm. However, students do not need to commit to the entire four days nor the entire time period. En Gedi is open to individual schedules that coincide with the youth center hours. All students in grades 6-8 from both Cedar Springs Public Schools (CSPS) and Creative Technologies Academy (CTA) as well as home-schooled and virtual learner students are welcome to attend. The Youth Center program doors are open Monday–Thursday when Cedar Springs Public Schools are in session. Strict standards following the recommended Kent County COVID guidelines, that coincide with CSPS and CTA rules, will be followed at the Youth Center.  More details can be found in the Youth Center Handbook available from Pastor Owens.

City Impact’s mini-bus/large van will be used for student transportation from both CSPS and CTA (if needed) to City Impact free of charge. Parents or guardians must pick up their students at City Impact no later than 5 pm. All parents or guardians must complete an application in advance to attend the youth center. This application can be found on the En Gedi website of EnGediYouthCenter.com or call Pastor Owens for more options. 

All youth center staff and volunteers are screened and supervised according to educational standards under the direct supervision of Pastor Owens. A van driver with a CDC license and one part-time staff are still needed. 

Daily schedules include indoor and outdoor physical activity, group discussions, board and computer games, as well as homework with monitored internet services available. It is hoped more opportunities will be provided as the recommended COVID guidelines change.  

“Building trusting relationships through mentoring and tutoring as well as having a lot of fun is our En Gedi objective,” said Pastor Owens. “As leaders within the youth center, we try to provide encouragement and safe options for this ‘after school time’ when students are often home alone due to working parents or guardians. Statistic show a high rate of drug use and bad choices occurring among middle school aged students during this unsupervised time at home,” he continued. 

“Now, with schools closing their buildings immediately after the last class, except for athletic practices, the youth center is a great option for our young people. En Gedi hopes to provide a safe and fun supervised place to hang out,” said Owens. 

Adult volunteers are needed at the Youth Center for any time slots they may have available to share.  If community members have a hobby or skill they are willing to share with the students please contact Pastor Owens.  Previous classes or demonstrations have included jewelry making, fire safety, guitar, and more. 

The Ladies and Men of Honor, a partner organization with En Gedi, will also conduct their meetings during Youth Center hours. This program promotes positive life leadership skills, community service, and Christian values. 

If you should have any questions surrounding the youth center please feel free to contact Pastor Owen by phone at 616.667.7773 or email at EnGediYouthCenter@gmail.com. Check out the En Gedi Facebook page and website of EnGediYouthCenter.com.  You can download the Youth Center Handbook and application on the website. 

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