KeepHealthCare.ORG – Oaks’ child care ministry gets $50,000 boost – News – Monroe News – Monroe, Michigan
Oaks of Righteousness Christian Ministries won an Art Van Charity Challenge this summer.
The “miracle on Second Street” that is Oaks of Righteousness Christian Ministries is officially expanding to the adjacent block.
Using $50,000 won from the Art Van Charity Challenge in late June, Oaks plans to renovate and open a separate space dedicated exclusively to its child care ministry, Oaks Acorn Children’s Village.
Oaks offers a number of services designed to break the cycle of poverty in Monroe, including a homeless shelter, a food closet, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, parenting classes and financial literacy classes.
Oaks Acorn Children’s Village, according to Pastor Heather Boone, helps low-income parents, especially single moms, by providing a safe, affordable place where those parents can leave their young ones while looking for housing, work and/or going to school.
“We want families to get on their feet and be self-sustaining as quick as possible,” Boone said. “We just try to take away those barriers to success. We really want to give those parents a hand up, not just a handout.”
After opening about 18 months ago, the Acorn Children’s Village has served 40 to 50 kids, according to Boone, including children from families across the community and from families staying at the shelter. LeKryssa Brooks’s one-year-old son, Andres, is one such child.
Brooks, 21, a current resident at the shelter, says she is now attending classes and earning her GED through the Learning Bank, while working a new job because she’s been able to rely on the folks at the Acorn Children’s village to take care of and teach her son.
“I don’t even know what I’d do without this place and these people,” Brooks said. “It’s such a comfort that I can leave and work and know my son is cared for. We’ll walk right in and he won’t even say ‘bye’ to me anymore. He loves it here and they love him.”
Currently, the Acorn Children’s Village is housed within the Oaks Victory Village facility, the former St. Joseph Catholic Church at E. Second Street and Kentucky Avenue, just a few steps away from Boone’s office. It’s a large room full of what one might expect of any daycare: shelves of toy cars, a plastic basketball hoop, pictures of horses and children’s artwork pinned to the walls and a rocking chair next to a shelf of books.
But the facility is limited, Boone said. They can only take so many kids at a time due to space, and state licensing constraints force them to operate more like a summer camp or Sunday school rather than the Montessori-style daycare they envisioned. But that’s about to change.
After participating in the Art Van Charity Challenge for two years with only the winnings from a raffle to show for their efforts, Oaks walked away this year with the first place award for charities in the Tier 2 budget bracket: $50,000. The challenge helps charities by incentivizing them to raise money and the programs that raise the most money for themselves win additional prizes.
In the three months leading up to the challenge’s deadline at the end of May, Boone said she and other volunteers at Oaks flooded their social media with posts about the competition and videos they made with the kids. Toward the end, according to Boone, 197 people made donations ranging from $5 to thousands of dollars, all adding up to $58,851.
“The last day (of the charity challenge) was crazy,” she said. “There was just a group of us sitting there praying and watching the numbers. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. We really saw God move and the community rally behind us.”
Combining their donations and first-place earnings, Oaks now has $108,851 to put toward renovating the old Kennedy House on the corner of E. 3rd Street and Kentucky, which was most recently a house for nuns, to be the new Oaks Acorn Children’s Village facility. Boone says they have a lot of work to do, from installing new flooring, toilets and playground equipment that are up to code to filling the facility with supplies. But she hopes to be up and running by early 2019. Boone says she’s excited for the opportunities this new facility will bring to the community, not just for the struggling parents, but for their children as well. She says Becky McCollum, a retired Montessori teacher and the director of Oaks Victory Village, has a vision for the new facility that will provide a quality learning experience for kids.
“She takes so much pride in thinking about all the details for these kids, helping them develop their motor skills and meet their developmental milestones,” Boone said. “We really want to fight poverty by helping the youngest, most vulnerable children in the community get a love for learning that no one will be able to take away. If you start reading to a kid at two or three years old and getting him to love learning early on, then when he gets to school later, he will excel.”
As with everything else at Oaks, Boone says volunteers will operate the facility. Presently, she says, a number of volunteers, including some retired teachers, come in to read and play with the kids, but they could always use more help.
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Anyone interested in volunteering time or donating to Oaks of Righteousness can call 734-244-5444, or email [email protected]