In 2014, over 200 different children attended at least one day of a Sonward program. During the school year Sonward offers a two day per week afterschool program for K – 6th graders. During the summer, this program switched to mornings following a community breakfast program. Families came and ate, then the children stayed to participate in club activities and art classes. Sonward’s two week-long sports camps hosted 80 – 100 children each night. In September, Sonward opened a “Bagged Dinner Pantry” to provide the children attending the afterschool program with “lunch box food” to keep in their backpack for when they are hungry and don’t have food available at home. In November, Sonward participated with a local high school mission class to provide a community Thanksgiving dinner that was attended by 60 people, many of whom were families of Sonward kids. And, we welcomed 39 kids at our Christmas party just last week. It has been an amazing year!
Recent grant funding has allowed Sonward to welcome a new staff member who is developing a tutoring component for our afterschool program. Another new initiative for 2015 is the Hope Garden. Sonward has gained use of an empty lot in the community to plant raised bed gardens. The Sonward children, staff and mentors will plant and maintain the garden; caring for their plants until harvest and then use what is grown to cook community meals for the neighborhood. Artistic elements will be made in our art classes and added to the garden to beautify the space for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. Also this summer, Sonward hopes to welcome short term mission teams to join in and experience this ministry in action in person. (Contact us if you would like to come.)
This is a snapshot of the “good” that is happening through God’s provision in a community that is statistically disadvantaged and riddled with crime. Three out of four Sonward children are growing up in poverty. So far, the 38 regularly attending children can attend two days per week of an afterschool program, take home a bagged dinner, and participate in sports camps and special events for free. Through our little bit of support, Sonward children find hope… their families find hope. We want to expand to be able to bring hope to even more children! But we need your help to do that. Will you be part of doing a little bit extra for the kids in New Kensington and Arnold who have connected with Sonward?
It costs $50 per kid per month to run the Sonward program. Will you sponsor the healthy snacks, activities, tutoring, and mentorship for one child? Will you pay for an alternative to hanging out on the streets? Will you give $50 per month for 12 months to provide one child with an opportunity to learn that there’s a different way to live life and there are people who care about them?
You can give to Sonward through our umbrella organization, Rock the World, at www.rocktheworld.org/donate, select Sonward Youth Programs from the drop down menu. You may also mail a check made out to Rock the World to Sonward, PO Box 4101, New Kensington, PA 15068.