After-School Impact: The Story of a Boy

Lutheran Social Services provides After-School and Summer Programs at five great locations.  At our Hilltop, East Side and Our Savior’s After-School and Summer Programs, LSS offers parents a sliding fee scale based on family income.  We are able to do this with the help of a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant and the Sioux Empire United Way.  At the Hilltop program, more than 65% of families qualify for the sliding fee scale or receive services at no charge. To find out more about our After-School and Summer Programs please visit our web page. Also, please spread the word that we are seeking great people to join our team as Enrichment Coordinators through the AmeriCorps Program and as Assistant Teachers. As you can see from the story below, this is a rewarding and fulfilling position.

In partnership with the school district’s Elementary Immersion Center, Hilltop offers after-school and summer care for a group of newly-arrived immigrant and refugee children enrolled at the Elementary Immersion Center.  They join the group of students that have been in the United States for weeks, years, or their whole lives.  This unique program provides all of the students with a life changing experience.  The story below, written by one of our staff captures the moments with one of our after-school students but he is just one of many. 

Friends

“M” first came to Lutheran Social Services’ Hilltop After-School Program from the school district’s Elementary Immersion Center. He was a fourth grade boy from a war-torn region of Africa. Over and over again, I was shocked at how adult-like he seemed for his young age. He spoke quietly and with respect to his teachers, always helped out the younger kids, and was never loud or rambunctious like a young boy should be. If I was gone for a day, the following day he would come up to me, demand to know where I was, and tell me how worried he was that I was never coming back. His worries were understandable when he shared stories about the terrors his family experienced in his homeland.  Even after a long day at school (he got picked up by the bus at 6:30 a.m.), he would still work very hard on his homework and constantly practice English. As a result, after only a few months at Hilltop he graduated from the Elementary Immersion Center and began attending his neighborhood public elementary school.
Week after week, “M” began his metamorphosis from a worried little mini-adult back into a child. He became an avid foosball player and a goal-making terror on the soccer field. Instead of a quiet facade, he laughed loudly when he was happy and even yelled when he was mad. He still helped out, but learned how to just play. Now, he is a rambunctious fourth grade boy just like any other. He is completely unafraid and while he is at Hilltop, he seems to have no worries at all. “M” is now the exact definition of a rough and tumble young boy, and even gets into a bit of mischief at times.
He still asks periodically if I will be at Hilltop the next day, just to make sure I’m not leaving without his knowledge. And last week, he surprised me and melted my heart by asking to hold my hand while walking from school for the first time in months. It reminded me of the boy he was when he came and how much he has changed and developed since he began his time at Hilltop.

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