Reach, a ministry run by ACU students, serves at-risk children and their families at an apartment complex on North Willis and Ambler.
Caroline Thompson, senior accounting major from Cypress, started Reach a year ago in an effort to plug into and serve the local community. Reach serves Abilene North Apartments, which is behind Ambler Bingo.
Bethany Jones, communications director of Reach, said the program established a list of more robust and targeted goals for the spring semester.
The grassroots ministry worked to establish a presence and build relationships during the first year of ministry. This semester, Reach plans to cultivate discipleship opportunities and continue to utilize small groups to initiate fresh growth and deeper relationships between children and mentors.
Jones, junior advertising and public relations major from Oklahoma City, said she hopes small groups create a safe place for heartfelt discussion and mentoring for the older children.
“With the little kids, it’s easy to connect with them- give them candy and they think you’re golden,” Jones said. “But with the older kids it’s harder, especially with the boys, because middle school and high school boys don’t want to hang out with small, white girls.”
Zach Callaway, senior accounting major from Round Rock, is leading the small group for older boys this semester and was involved with Reach from the beginning.
“It was kind of a mindset change for me; these kids just want to have friends to hang out with,” Callaway said.
Reach occurs every Wednesday from 4-5:30 p.m. The first hour is filled with fun activities such as kickball, rope jumping, chalk and rope climbing. After a group Bible story time, they break into smaller groups for object lessons, activities and crafts. Reach volunteers take older children to ACU basketball games and invite them to their houses for movies in an effort to foster increasingly robust relationships.
“That’s what we are really trying to do this semester, really get that connection with the older kids,” Jones said.
The continuity and regularity of Reach is one of its best qualities, Jones said. It allows the volunteers to connect with the children and develop meaningful relationships.
“You can see how much it means that you are taking time to listen to them tell you what they had for lunch,” Jones said.