Businesses reward Monroe teens for Kidz Club leadership


When Monroe nonprofit Take the Next Step was looking for a way to honor a group of 12 high school students for community advocacy and volunteerism, Main Street Caf+¬ owner Sandra Adkins didn't hesitate ' she immediately invited them to the caf+¬ for a free dinner.

Yoforit Frozen Yogurt quickly followed suit, providing gift cards for free dessert.

The teens were recognized for completing a nine-month volunteer program where they became leaders in Kidz Club, a collaborative program coordinated by TTNS and Seattle Youth for Christ. Held every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon during the school year, Kidz Club is available to all elementary-age students, who are invited to come, eat healthy snacks, learn life skills and get help with homework.

Once the school year is over, the program transitions into its summer Wake the Neighborhood series, an extension of Kidz Club for all children.-á

Wake the Neighborhood started last year to provide kids with a "safe, friendly, hope-filled place to have fun in the summer.GÇ¥ TTNS and Youth for Christ staffer Raylin Lucey said that they were able to serve nearly 100 kids, and they hope to serve even more this year.

Similar to Kidz Club, the faith-based Wake the Neighborhood program offers healthy snacks, games, reading and outdoor activities. The group will meet every Thursday throughout the month of July in the field behind New Hope Fellowship Church, 1012 W. Main St., in Monroe.

It was during last year's Wake the Neighborhood series that the 12 Monroe teens really became involved in supporting Kidz Club. Students at both Monroe High School and Leaders in Learning, the teens became an integral part of the club and continued to volunteer throughout the 2015GÇô16 school year. There were three middle school students that helped as well, said TTNS Community Outreach Coordinator Sarah Lunstrum, but the 12 high schoolers really dove in and showed commitment, meeting on a weekly basis outside of Kidz Club to learn what it means to be a leader.

"They've been leaders in our Kidz Club program all year long, so they've had their own groups of kids that they've been responsible for,GÇ¥ Lunstrum said.

Many of the students volunteered 75 hours or more, for a total of 1,300 volunteer hours during the past school year. The student leader opportunity followed the framework established in Youth for Christ's City Life ministry, a model meant to empower youth to transform their communities. Five of them attended a mission trip to New York with Lucey, his wife, Emily, and Youth for Christ City Life Director Minta Buse, to learn even more what it means to serve.

"It was life-changing,GÇ¥ Lucey said.

Many of the teen volunteers are gearing up for another summer with Wake the Neighborhood, and will be serving as neighborhood team leaders throughout the July series.

As a reward for their efforts, Adkins served up beverages, freshly cooked onion rings, waffle fries and cheeseburgers. She opened the restaurant just for them, hosting the event at 6 p.m. Friday, June 24, a time when the caf+¬ would typically be closed.-á

TTNS and Youth for Christ are seeking volunteers and donations to help support the 2016 Wake the Neighborhood program. Funding and donations are needed to provide incentives for kids and volunteers, including hats and gift cards for places like Starbucks, McDonald's, Walmart and iTunes. Candy is also needed, and funding to provide Wake the Neighborhood T-shirts for kids, volunteers and student leaders.

T-shirt sponsorships are available for $5 per shirt, so a donation of $50 would be enough to fund 10 shirts. -á -á

To learn more about what is needed, visit the TTNS Facebook page at To make a donation, visit At TTNS, 93 percent of donations directly support TTNS programs. For more information about how to get involved, email Sarah Lunstrum at or Raylin Lucey atá

Photo by Chris Hendrickson Main Street Cafe owner Sandra Adkins served a free dinner to a group of high school students from Monroe last month. The teens were recognized for a year of volunteering with Kidz Club, a collaborative kids after-school program coordinated by Seattle Youth for Christ and Take the Next Step. In the photo: TTNS outreach coordinator Sarah Lunstrum, Youth for Christ staffer Raylin Lucey, his wife Emily, Viviana Morales, Alexis Priego, Ricardo Guillen, Roberto Ibarra, Diana Ayala, Maribel Ibarra and Youth for Chris staffer Minta Buse holding Fern Lunstrum.


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