District Project Feature: GAP Kids in West Branch

GAP (God’s Awesome People) Kids, formerly the Summer Enrichment program at First UMC West Branch, and Family Ministries OutReach features creating unique ways to fill a “GAP” within our community.  We strive to offer a Christ centered program, which provides for the physical needs of the children, while planting seeds of God’s unconditional love, teaching the children about prayer, and sharing stories of courage and faith from the Bible. However, our program itself, has become financially challenged. We believe Christ has called us the fill this “GAP”, but we need your help. Please, prayerfully, include our program as a district project in your Spotlight church giving, found on page 12 in the Spotlight Church 2018 booklet. With your assistance, we will continue to meet the growing needs of our community. We thank you in advance for your prayerful consideration. 

We fill the “GAP” while building bridges and networks within our area to share Christ’s message to our community.  Here is the story that explains the ‘why’ of what we provide our GAP kids program…

“One morning last spring as I was coming into my office, I heard an older woman speaking to our church administrator. It was clear to me the woman was upset, so I introduced myself as the pastor and asked if I could be of any help. She replied, “Pastor, I don’t know what to do!” She proceeded to share the story of her family. She was a grandmother of three young boys whose single mom struggled to work 3 part time jobs to pay the bills and care for her boys. Because of this, her daughter had limited resources and had asked her mom to care for the children during the summer. The woman began to cry as she explained she loved her family, but was unable to take care of her grandchildren by herself. She lived in a small two bedroom apartment and struggled herself to pay all the bills. How could she have the space to care for the boys, or the resources to feed them all summer? Then one day, she heard from a friend about a program at the First United Methodist Church for children during the summer. She had come to ask if her grandchildren could come and how much it would cost. Any help would be a real miracle!

  My heart broke as her tears flowed and I began to tell her about our GAP summer program. “Would it help if we had a program Monday through Friday for six weeks in the summer? Our program would keep the kids busy with fun, educational, Christian character building activities. We provide breakfast, lunch and snacks for the children each day. And we are staffed with carefully chosen, caring staff and volunteers.” She replied reluctantly, “Yes, that certainly would help but how much would it cost for three children?” “It’s free,” I answered.

Who do we serve? We serve any local family by providing food, faith, and fun for children and youth in or going into the 1st – 6th grades during their Spring, Summer and/or Winter Breaks. Our GAP program  offers a critical service to families who struggle to meet their child’s needs, &/or are seeking meaningful, character building, and physically active activities without electronics over the various breaks throughout the school year.  We fill that GAP for the children and their families, when they need it most!

We offer a FREE day camp-like setting without the sleepovers and weekends Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. In addition, there is an aftercare program until 5:15 p.m. The length of Spring or Winter session vary while our Summer session runs for 6-weeks, minus July 4th. We fill the GAP while their parents/ guardians/ caregivers must work &/or need respite.

For information, please contact First United Methodist Church, 2490 West State Road, West Branch, Michigan 48661  989-345-0210  

Rev. Timothy Dibble, Pastor revtcd@yahoo.com or

Linda L. Hall, B.S.W., Family Ministries OutReach Coordinator, hall4thee@gmail.com or see our Facebook page: @ https://www.facebook.com/FMOEnrichments/