OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Hope Center for Kids strives to be a safe space for the community they serve.
"I had a kid tell me one time, 'Pastor King we love coming to the Hope Center because we feel safe there,' and when I first heard that I didn’t understand what he meant until I walked through his neighborhood and I saw the violence and things going on, and I understood exactly what he meant after that," Edward King, a pastor at the Hope Center said.
"For a lot of kids when they come to the Hope Center, our goal is for them to feel like kids. We don’t want them to worry about everything that's going on in the neighborhood. For a little time they come in and stay, our job is to make sure they’re safe. We’re going to watch out for the things you don’t have to watch out for. You come in and be a kid and play and have fun and hopefully, it gives a bit of reprieve from the craziness going on around them," explained King.
One program that's added to that mission is mentoring. They've had a match program in the past but COVID put a pause to it.
King says the kids expressed how upset they were that they weren't able to meet with their mentors. He also says he noticed a difference.
"With one particular kid I’m thinking about, I noticed his attitude got a lot worse when he wasn’t meeting with his mentor anymore and a lot of it was because he took a long time to build that trust with the mentor," King said.
Now, they've partnered with Release Ministries to bring the program back. They say the collaboration is a natural one because they have similar missions and even serve the same community.
"A lot of the kids Release works with do come to Hope Center and some Hope kids probably have some interactions with Release, whether it’s through our services or mentoring, so probably not all the kids are super connected through Release and Hope but there's a lot of commonalities," said Marcus Brown, Mentoring Director for Release.
Kids meet with their mentors at least twice a month and do activities like eat pizza or go to a game. The organizations are looking for leaders in the community to mentor these kids and be a part of their lives.
If you want to become a mentor you can visit their website: http://www.hopecenterforkids.com/