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South Augusta Community Development Corp. mentors Barton Chapel Villlage children

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In Barton Chapel Village, school doesn’t end when the afternoon dismissal bell rings.

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Center director Leon Harpe helps Matthew Williams, 10, with homework during the STARS program at the South Augusta Community Development Corp. Success Through A Righteous Start is in its third week.  ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMRS/STAFF
ZACH BOYDEN-HOLMRS/STAFF
Center director Leon Harpe helps Matthew Williams, 10, with homework during the STARS program at the South Augusta Community Development Corp. Success Through A Righteous Start is in its third week.
Tracey McManus
Reporter
Twitter: @aug_mcmanus
E-mail | 706-823-3424

It continues at the South Augusta Community Development Corp., where mentors help pupils with homework, give them access to computers and try to touch their lives at the same time.

“Our efforts are to take care of the mind, body and soul,” said Yannik McKie, the chief operations officer.

The development corporation is in its third week of Success Through A Righteous Start, an after-school youth mentoring and feeding program aimed at at-risk kids in the Barton Chapel area. About 20 pupils participate in the program each day, but McKie said the goal is to spread the outreach to thousands of children across the city.

With violence and crime too common in Augusta, McKie believes the way to change is to reach youth needing help before they grow up and react to their circumstances.

“We can’t stop it now, but we can prevent it from happening in the future by reaching these kids that live in poverty-filled, drug-filled, violence-filled communities,” McKie said. “We can prevent them from being in five years or 10 years what we’re reading about in the paper now. These are the same kids.”

When the pupils in the STAR program arrive, they are first given a snack and get help with homework. When school work is completed, they can use one of 12 computers for games or research, and they get a hot meal at the end of the day.

To make the program convenient for families, the volunteers drive each pupil home using a Broadway Baptist Church van.

“What we do here in this building goes beyond these walls,” corporation director Leon Harpe said.

On Wednesday, Harpe and about four volunteers helped pupils do coloring, math homework and play strategy games on the computers.

Jayda Ward, a Barton Chapel Elementary School fourth-grader, said she likes school, but it becomes easier when she has a little help.

“If I wasn’t here, I’d be at home trying homework by myself and it would be harder,” Ward said.

STARS is aimed for children up to fifth grade, but the development corporation has other programs to reach different demographics. Each week, the center conducts adult literacy classes, teen mentoring, smoking cessation classes, senior groups and other programs.

McKie said he would eventually like to grow his center into a larger facility with basketball courts, a cafeteria and even a full-fledged school.

Although the center receives funding from Bright from the Start, the state’s Department of Early Care and Learning, to support the feeding program, McKie said finances are an obstacle in his plans for expansion. The center mostly runs on donations from Broadway Baptist Church, but the need is still there.

It’s an approach he said is needed to reach children who need help over a long period of time. After the first few weeks of STARS, he said the success stories aren’t yet there.

The major achievements won’t be seen until a child’s life is changed for good, and for the better, because the child who grows up to commit crimes and use or deal drugs began as a child who was reaching out for help, he said.

“What these children are dealing with is so systemic,” McKie said. “It’s going to take us doing what we’re doing for years to have one of these fifth-graders really make it.”

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seenitB4
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seenitB4 02/23/12 - 05:25 am
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This is great if every school

This is great if every school had this we could probably cut the crime rate in half.

avidreader
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avidreader 02/23/12 - 06:43 am
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I'm sure the teachers are

I'm sure the teachers are very pleased when these kids arrive for school prepared for a good day's work. Giving of one's self for the good of an entire community is a noble task.

scgator
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scgator 02/23/12 - 05:25 pm
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I applaud the work and

I applaud the work and efforts of those involved in such a program. HOWEVER, I do wonder why is it that with all of the needs we have in our neighborhoods.........nobody thinks it is serious enough to do anything about unless some one is "funding" it through government funds. Our kids needed help in mentoring and tutoring when young....WE DID IT; we did not ask the state to pay for it. WE DID IT; This is not anti-obama....this has gone on for years; why is it nothing is important for you to do unless somebody is paying you....

The VA always asks for volunteers, yet you see employees standing around the hallways chit-chatting for hours ( I HAVE been to appointments and when I left later on, saw the same employees wandering around in the halls and cafeteria). And yet they want volunteers to help them do what they are already being paid to do..........

yannikmckie
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yannikmckie 02/23/12 - 08:09 pm
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Maybe scgator didnt read the

Maybe scgator didnt read the whole article. We are not funded by a federal program we are funded by Broadway Baptist Church and generous donations from our partners and volunteers, as the article alludes to. We only have 3 employees whose salaries combined dont equal $2000 a month. The only federal funds we will receive will be for the feeding of our children and even these funds are only a reimbursement of what we have already spent for feeding, not for paying employees. This great afterschool program is only possible because of our great volunteers, generous donors, and hard working individual who are working for God and not for money. Praise be to God!

Craig Spinks
818
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Craig Spinks 02/24/12 - 02:08 am
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KUDOS to SACDC and to

KUDOS to SACDC and to Broadway Baptist for walking the walking of helping our children in need.

JRC2024
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JRC2024 02/24/12 - 09:53 am
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Helping these children is

Helping these children is great. Get the help to do the cooking and cleaning from the parents. That is if they are not working. Thanks for Broadways concern.

scgator
1042
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scgator 02/24/12 - 10:08 am
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Maybe scgator didnt read the

Maybe scgator didnt read the whole article. We are not funded by a federal program we are funded by Broadway Baptist Church and generous donations from our partners and volunteers,

It also says that some of the support groups that help you, get their funding from the state (and where does the state get its money, the feds or taxpayers). so you may not deal directly with the government, but it is a source of at least some of your funds. PLEASE don't think I am against what you are doing, it is just there are so many, who will not act on a problem unless there is money to be made. In fact, let me make this offer, I repair computers and teach computers ; if you have any need for my skills, I will be more than happy to help out free of any charge......................

raul
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raul 02/24/12 - 12:42 pm
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@scgator. Generous offer.

@scgator. Generous offer. Like.

yannikmckie
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yannikmckie 02/24/12 - 10:48 pm
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ok scgator! It is time to put

ok scgator! It is time to put your money where your mouth is! I actually had a talk with our director today and he mentioned wanting to do computer training with the youth for our summer school program and we were scratching our heads wondering if we knew anyone who could facilitate this need! Are you on board?

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