Back in the Clubhouse
When you enter The Salvation Army Fountain Square Corps Community Center on a Tuesday night, the sounds of laughing and learning children come from every direction. More than thirty neighborhood kids participate in Club 3:16, a character-building program unique to The Salvation Army.
“This program is an opportunity for school-aged kids to get connected to life skills development in a Christ-centered environment,” explains Captain Vinal Lee, who oversees activities at the corps. Many children who are part of the program come from households that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents look to The Salvation Army and Club 3:16 to help ground their children and keep them socially engaged during an year dominated by virtual experiences.
“With so much lockdown and quarantine, being able to see their friends again and be connected to a positive adult, to be able to have actual friendship, is a huge takeaway for our young people,” adds Capt. Lee.
Tuesday night starts with a hot meal before the kids break into smaller groups by age. From the preschool Moonbeams to the middle and high school Girl Guards and Rangers, the kids work through specific curriculums and activities to earn badges. This winter, the Moonbeams are learning about their differences and what makes them unique while earning their “I am Special” badge. Elementary aged kids are earning their Animal Badge and learning about outer space while the older teens learn how to cook healthy foods and explore the concepts of teamwork and sportsmanship.
For months during the city-wide shutdowns of 2020, The Salvation Army was unable to provide these important in-person experiences. That didn’t prevent Capt. Lee and his team from staying connected with their Club 3:16 families. Each week the team would head out with bags of supplies and make porch deliveries to families, much to the relief of parents looking for new ways to make time away from school bearable for their children.
“This one family in particular made it a part of their daily routine,” recalls Capt. Lee. “They didn’t just do the activities on Tuesdays. They were working through the Bible lesson each day, working on their badge work every day, and incorporating that into their school curriculum. We thought it was a pretty great outcome of being able to provide those resources directly in the home for the families.”
Today the family is back at The Salvation Army. The four boys, ages six to sixteen, get to see their Club 3:16 friends face-to-face and forget for just a few hours that the world is a strange place right now. For this family and so many more, your support has been a blessing they will never forget. Thank you.