My sister and I went home to an empty house from 3 to 6 p.m. every day. We knew whom to call in case of emergency, but we were unsupervised until my mother came home from work. There were rules that we were told to follow. For example, we knew not to open the door for strangers. We actually followed them quite well. One time, a man from the gas company came to our house to read the meter. After not getting an answer to the doorbell, he left for the local pay phone and called my mother, “Ms. Case, could you please tell your girls it’s safe to let me in. I know they are home—they are looking at me through the porch window.”
Fortunately, we didn’t get into too much trouble, but we did do our share of things that we shouldn’t have. We rode our bikes on the bike paths and walked to the beach when we should have been doing our homework: harmless disobedience. But we would also climb onto the garage roof and jump into a pile of leaves or, better yet, peel off the roof tiles outside our bedroom windows and chuck them into the street like Frisbees. The truth is that if there had been an after-school program, it probably would have been a good place for us to be.
I guess that’s why I’m so excited about the idea of an after-school program at Hutchison. An after-school program is a safe place during the hours of 3 to 6 p.m.—the peak time for juvenile crime and victimization. After-school programs provide adult supervision to children who otherwise would be home alone. (And they even prevent risky behaviors like climbing onto roofs).
When I think about Floris UMC partnering with Hutchison Elementary to create an after-school program, I get excited about the possibilities. I imagine activities that will engage children and get them motivated to learn. I imagine instilling in these children a sense of worth and purpose. But most of all, I imagine adults stepping in to be a part of a child’s life and making an impact that leaves a lasting impression.