Jodie Koch, program director at the East Seventh Street Center, has been widening the worlds of the children she serves by introducing them to new activities and concepts.
For instance, some of the children have created a mural that was placed on a public building in the spring as part of Transylvania University's Community Engagement Through the Arts class.
Some took part in the "Our World in Pictures" workshops in 2009, in which professional photographers taught them how to use cameras. Their photos were later on exhibit as they stood proudly nearby.
And some have helped to build a raised-bed garden in which they grew vegetables with help and instruction from Seedleaf, an organization that promotes and helps residents install and maintain vegetable gardens.
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The activities offered and experiences learned this year will very much depend on the people who make the time to volunteer.
East Seventh Street Center is open from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday during the school year. An average of 20 kids — from elementary school through early middle school — stop by to get help with homework, to be tutored, to play games or participate in other activities, work in the computer lab, and to have a full meal at the center's Kids Café.
The café is supplied by God's Pantry's and with other donations, Koch said. And the meal is not a peanut butter sandwich but meatloaf and mashed potatoes, she said.
"I would love to have folks come in who have a special gift," Koch said, "People who want to teach dance for example or do some art projects with the children, or someone who is great at science.
"I would love to have creative folks who have a special interest in facilitating something for a group of kids. We want our kids to have unique experiences and meet folks from other areas."
The center offers a cooking class on Wednesdays, and a representative from the public library comes twice a month to teach literacy activities, especially for the younger kids.
Usually the volunteers are college students who might leave town during the summer. Or volunteers have been high school and middle school students who can help younger students with their homework, with reading or with the worksheets they all are required to do for at least 15 minutes each day.
"Our kids are very energetic," Koch said. "They are great at latching on quickly to volunteers. We would like to see retirees or anybody."
Potential volunteers will be asked to complete a brief application and submit to a general background check.
"We have a lot more kids who are in need, and it takes us a while to get that strong base" of volunteers, she said.
And the door is always open to any child younger than 18 who needs a safe place to go after school.
There will be an open house from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Oct. 6 to show parents, guardians and potential volunteers what the center is all about.
For more information, contact Koch at (859) 229-9628 or email@example.com, or go to the Web site at East7center.weebly.com.