After-School Program Helps Working Families

November 3rd, 2012
This article is featured in the Outreach 2013 (Nov/Dec/Jan 2012-13) issue of Circuit Rider

Children are of the highest value for the people of Bridgeport United Methodist Church in Bridgeport, W.Va. One of the ways this is reflected to our community is through the Joyful Noise After-School Program. Children begin arriving as early as 2:00 p.m. and the program runs until 5:30 p.m. Often, they come full of energy and ready to play after a long day at school. The entire educational building of the church is full of exuberant joy, and sometimes creative chaos. However, the church feels the program is aptly named; as one older member observed, “It’s noisy, but it sure is a joyful noise to hear!”

The program is a major outreach program of the church and by making this available to the community, the parents can have peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe and life-giving environment. The mission of the Joyful Noise program is to provide a caring place for the children of working families. We believe that each child is a person of value and needs to be nurtured as a child of God. Christian values and materials are incorporated throughout the program.

The staff works with Director Becky Thornton to organize, plan, and carry out a daily program that is sound developmentally and spiritually. The children participate in homework sessions, arts and crafts, and a recreation time. They are provided with snacks and engage monthly in a mission service project. In addition, a chapel time is included as a part of the overall program. The class groupings include children from preschool through fifth grade.

The tuition for the school year is $120 per child per month which covers essential costs, and the church as a whole provides the space and all costs associated with the facility. Scholarships for the program are provided through the United Methodist Women as a part of their continual mission and outreach emphasis. This makes it possible for some who cannot afford the fee to be included in the program.

The church has high visibility in the community, which has helped this program to meet the needs of parents and families of various configurations for a number of years. The open doors and open hearts that they find here have fostered the growth and expansion of Joyful Noise through the years.

New families have become a part of the church and become involved with other ministries in the church. Some have become members others regular attendees. However, the church affirms this as a community program and sponsors it as such, regardless of whether any church affiliation takes place.

An open house event kicks off the year and the program is even available during early dismissal school days. With a vibrant preschool program and the Joyful Noise After School Program, the church communicates visibly to the entire region, “This is a place for children.” When you walk into the educational building you can literally see and hear, loud and clear, the signs of life. No wonder Jesus made a special place for children. They are a true joy and the parents express their appreciation for this program almost daily.

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