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Youth wellness at center of summer program’s fundraiser

Ever since the New Hope Summer Program opened in 1999, local youth have found safety, friendship, mentors, and memories there.

“Our youth have been isolated due to Covid-19 and have endured deep emotional turmoil to the point of suicidal ideation,” Jones said. “The sooner we have enough funds in place, the sooner we will be able to begin the work of preventing any further incidents and save our community and families more heartache.”

Jones added that a current lack of funding may curtail the outreach’s popular program to the detriment of the children who want or need it.

To that end, Jones and his wife ‘Mother Regina’, along with his board of directors have decided to repeat the Covid-appropriate fundraising campaign they held last year, when pandemic-related health issues forced them to cancel the ministry’s annual banquet. The ticket price for that banquet, plus good-will donations and pledges, have funded the summer program since 2001.

The goal of this year’s ‘Adopt A Child’ fundraiser is to raise enough money to fully fund the summer program, and to meet other ministry program needs for the rest of 2021. The fundraiser runs through May 28, just before the summer program begins. Donors may choose to make a $1,200 one-time donation or split that total into four monthly $300 payments.

“Anyone who is unable to support us for the full amount but would like to make a donation can do so, and we will put it towards a child’s tuition,” Jones said.

The summer program runs from June through Sep. for up to 60 children from 6 to 15 years old.

“There’s plenty of recreation with a separate area for younger kids, plus meals and snacks, one movie each day, a game room, field trips, use of the sports field at John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School, and a regular curriculum including reading, spelling, drama, science, and home economics so they can take care of themselves if needed,” Jones said. 

A bible class is also offered, which Jones said is purely voluntary and requires permission from the childrens’ caregivers.

“We always let parents know, at the orientation session, that we offer bible classes and talk about spiritual things. We’re not trying to force anything, but these kids do need Jesus. We all do,” Jones said. “I tell parents to let me know if they have any problem with that and, if so, we will take their child out of that part of the program.”

According to Jones, the increase in suicides and attempted suicides reported because of  pandemic-related isolation became an alarming mental health issue for students who thrived on the companionship and activities offered by in-person learning environments. He said his staff members will focus extra attention on the individual situations of the program’s participants.

“We do all we can to make them feel important, loved and needed, and show them how much they’re worth,” Jones said. “That changes their perspectives about themselves and causes them to want to live.”

Those interested in either the fundraiser or summer camp may contact the Purpose of God Annex at purposeofgodannex.com or by calling the office at 252-974-1484.