“TEACHER! TEACHER!” I’ve been called a lot of things, but this was new to my ears. I was helping a great bunch of Heritage School kids with their homework at Care Lodi’s brand-new after-school program.

CARE LODI has been building relationships with Heritage District grade-school kids for years, mostly through after-school programs at Hale Park. My church, Horizon Church, recently purchased the cute little old church at the corner of Garfield and Flora for our Lodi campus. One of our goals was to build connections with the neighborhood kids. We’re partnering with Care Lodi, and it’s great!

FROM 2:30 to 5 PM Mondays and Wednesdays, kids cross the street from Heritage School to Horizon Church and open their backpacks (Our backpack distribution is another success story). They spread out their homework: Math, vocabulary, spelling, you name it. They work until they’ve completed their homework. Then it’s off to the church basement for (LOUD) games and snacks.

SWEET KIDS…Little girls in colorful hijabs. Boisterous boys. A range of ethnicity from Hispanic to Middle Eastern to red hair and freckles. The ladies who run the program do a great job. I just follow orders. Monday we had TWENTY-SIX KIDS! It’s draining, but a lot of fun.

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KIDS THESE DAYS are under pressures many of us can’t fathom. Third- and fourth-graders are being recruited into gangs. Hats off to Liz and Katie and Tess and the volunteers of Care Lodi for providing a safe and stable place for at-risk kids to grow and thrive. Care Lodi: Worthy of your support (and prayers).