At Willow Street Christian Church in Hannibal, the Caring Hands tutoring program serves the underserved, making a real difference in people's lives every day.
The program began in 1998 as a seminary project of former Associate Pastor Rev. Norma Bernard. It is now a separate 501(c)(3) organization with current pastor Rev. Minnie Smith serving as director. Each day after school an average of 22 students come to have a healthy snack, read, get some help with their homework, and socialize with each other in a safe and nurturing environment. The program has grown such that this daily number of children served is up from 14 just last year.
Under Rev. Smith's direction the tutors, who are primarily local college and university students, help the children with all subjects. Each day there are six tutors on hand to guide homework, quiz spelling words, listen to reading, and support the program’s mission to help every kid become all that God intended for them to be.
The tutors are paid and the program is funded by local churches and service organizations, foundations, individuals, United Way, and large employers, with Willow Street struggling to pick up any slack. They welcome donations of any size emphasizing that no contribution to this vital ministry is too big or too small.
Miss Minnie, as the kids call her, notes that Willow Street CC really has become a “neighborhood parish” in their Hannibal community. Most of the participating kids are there every day of the week - for tutoring, Tuesday evening children and youth ministry, Sunday morning school, breakfast, and worship, and just playing on the playground.
The program even reaches out to the children’s parents helping with food preparation, transportation, and supervision. The goal is for them to feel loved, welcomed, and useful as they join with the church in service to God and God’s people.
Read more about this wonderful program in a recent article by Trevor McDonald of the
Hannibal Courier-Post, who graciously supplied all photos.