By The Reverend Matt Titus
Towards the end of August 2020, I began to pray and think about what my congregation – The Lutheran Church of The Redeemer in Newberry, SC – could do to offer help, flexibility, and piece of mind not only to the numerous families and students within our community, but to the school district as well. I was hearing the worry from my friends about what they were trying to figure out with their kids, and my wife (who is a teacher in the district) was mentioning some of the needs that she was hearing about. Those needs mostly concerned with space for students who might not be living in the most ideal conditions for remote learning.
As I prayed, I received a phone call from a member of my congregation who was thinking about what the churches in the area could do. We had a good conversation with no ‘ah-ha’ moments, but we definitely knew we wanted to ask the Newberry County School District what their needs were and if our church could help out in any specific ways. Thankfully, one of Redeemer’s members is an assistant superintendent (Dr. Lynn Cary), so I reached out to hear about the congregation being willing to provide help and space if it is needed.
Dr. Cary responded back to me rather quickly informing me that they were in need of space and that she was going to run our offer by Superintendent Stuber for guidance. He suggested that we get into contact with the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands and their executive director Mr. Troy Thames.
I reached out to Mr. Thames and discovered that what Redeemer was capable of offering (space, wi-fi, and cleaning of the learning space) was exactly what the BGC was in need of. In our conversation we scheduled a time for him and the area director, Mrs. Lisa Brice, to tour our facility to see if it would be adequate to their needs. Thankfully, our space is more than adequate. We quickly moved to write-up an agreement (I’ve attached that agreement to this e-mail). This partnership was a win-win for both BGC and for Redeemer.
The next hurdle to pass was for an approval from our Church Council. Again, we give thanks to God that our leadership saw this as a wonderful opportunity to provide help and care for our community, so the agreement was unanimously passed so that the process could officially begin.
The all-day care program through the BGC began on August 31, just a week after school started. The only ‘negative’ to our plan so far is that by the time we were able to advertise that families could sign their students up, many of those families had already made arrangements for their children. Though, each week I believe the numbers continue to rise bit by bit as the program is advertised through the area schools and on our Newberry Now community page on Facebook.
From the moment that I reached out to Dr. Cary at the NCSD to when the program began at Redeemer took around 10 days. Again, with great thanks we already had a scheduled council meeting on the Third Monday of the month, so it worked out well for us and we didn’t have to arrange a special called council meeting to discuss this opportunity.