“One main goal in the middle school program is to share God’s love with all of the kids. We consider ourselves as a second family. This means we strive to treat each other with kindness and respect.”

Our After School Program is a program designed to provide middle school students a space to hang out, have snacks, and enjoy organized activities such as baking, crafts, and sports. They also participate in “Real Talk,” where they discuss the real issues kids face, the importance of healthy values, their belief in God, and His love for them.

Paula Guikema serves as Program Director for the After School Program. She has been a dedicated part of the Streams of Hope team since our founding in 2006, and she lives within 2 miles of our campus.

“Some people get called to Africa… but my mission field is just down the road!” she says. Here’s what else Paula had to say about our After School Program:

“We gather around the table for snack and share what’s going on in our lives. We talk about how much God loves us and encourage the kids to develop a relationship with Him. We pray together. Within this goal, we seek to partner with parents, teachers and administrators to help kids navigate adolescence, which can be a difficult time of life for many kids. Their desire for independence is growing and yet they still need to depend on parents for the things they need.

“They want to make their own decisions, but parents and teachers still need to monitor and approve those decisions. They have a desire to have their own privacy, yet parents need to make sure they don’t put themselves in danger. They want to go places and choose their own friends, but parents must put boundaries on that to keep them from making bad choices. It is a constant tug-of-war that is frustrating, confusing, and tiring for everyone involved.

“In adolescence, a kid’s brain is still evolving and their thinking takes on a new dimension. As young children, they accepted and trusted mom and dad’s values, but in adolescence, they want to figure it out for themselves. They start to question their parents’ decisions, rules and values. They have to decide if they will adopt their parents’ beliefs as their own. Since they aren’t adults, they find it hard to understand what parents and teachers expect, and misunderstandings abound. Communication becomes strained. This is where we try to help.

“We listen to kids’ frustrations and can relate to them because we have all gone through those teenage years ourselves.  But we also relate to parents, because we are parents. We seek to explain why a teacher may hold them to certain standards or why a parent may have made a decision they don’t like. We talk about the importance of trying one’s best in school, of being respectful to parents and teachers. We explain that they will always have obligations and authority figures in their lives.

“Their relationships with family and friends will be challenging at times. They will encounter difficult people that they need to get along with. As adult staff and volunteers, we too face certain expectations at work and at home. We share our own experiences with the kids. We use the Bible as our guide to help us all understand how God wants us to live and work with others. Loving others isn’t easy and we will all fail from time to time, but with God’s help, we can continue to grow in our love for others.”

Do you also have a heart for helping? Apply to volunteer here!