THE REV. LAURA Schultz of Messiah United Methodist hopes that every church with extra space in her community would take in every child in town for nurturing, guidance, sharing of positive values and fun.
Nearly two years ago, at her church's annual strategic planning meeting, church members decided that what they could best offer in their role of a small church in a small town was an outreach to teens in the neighborhood.
Taneytown was growing, and too many kids were without something to do after school. Rather than let them hang out or stay in an empty house until parents returned from work, members of the congregation opened church doors after school and welcomed kids with snacks, homework help and enjoyable activities.
The pilot program they began that spring took off and, in fall 1997, Messiah's mentoring program was launched.
The program is geared for children ages 10 to 15, a critical time for them, said Schultz, especially if they're doing poorly in school or facing a personal or family crisis.
With the time and attention the teens receive in the program that focuses on homework, listening, discipline, and fun, participants often see an improvement in their grades and interpersonal relationships. Getting to kids during these years, Schultz said, can make an impact that lasts the rest of their lives.
The program serves 25 children with 16 mentors, and has a waiting list of teens who want to join. Mentors and teens work on homework, and teens gain positive feedback.
"So much of what kids hear and see in the media is negative -- like the putting down of others -- that we try to counter that with positive responses. We're very encouraged, but it's a lot of hard work," Schultz said.
The youth are motivated, in turn, to give of themselves. They have raised money to buy four flocks of chickens to donate to the Heifer Project, and have handcrafted Christmas cards and delivered them to Alzheimer's patients.
Schultz and her assistants, Stan Wise, deacon at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, and Fred Robinson and Cathy Jenkins of Messiah, have received boosts along the way.
They received funding from the Carroll County Safe Families Act, attracted interest from education majors at Western Maryland College who serve as mentors, and garnered support from school Principals George Phillips at Francis Scott Key High School and Rolland Kiracofe at Northwest Middle School.
Schultz said: "People from all over town are coming together. One of the best things we can do in a small town is watch out for each other's kids."
Super Bowl party
Firefighters, Ladies Auxiliary and junior firefighters will cook steamed oysters, oyster stew, pit beef, chicken wings, meatballs and more.
"It's a rotating menu -- when one thing runs out, we'll add something new," said Bob Boone, a Union Bridge firefighter for 35 years and a coordinator of the event.
Food is served beginning two hours before kickoff and is served until the third quarter. More than 100 people have bought tickets for the party.
"Men, women, children, families, everyone comes. The kids are never a problem," Boone said. "We have football giveaways and a 50-50 raffle. And the best part is that when we play the national anthem, everyone stands up.
"We set up two big-screen TVs on the stage, scrunch all the tables together, and everyone watches the game and has a great time," he said.
Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door at 4 p.m. game day. Information and tickets: 410-775-7830.
Watch this space for events commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Taneytown branch of the Carroll County library.
And, as a reminder to busy families who don't always return books on time: renew those tomes by phone at 410-751-2298.
Pub Date: 1/28/99