10/09/05 — Program offers help with life, homework

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Program offers help with life, homework

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 9, 2005 2:03 AM

Glenwood Burden Jr. said he has seen many young people influenced by the negative, he decided to offer a positive.

The youth director for Gospel Perspective Ministries developed the Good News Gang, a community afterschool program begun in September for youths 5 to 18 years old.

While the program provides a place for children to gather and complete homework assignments, Burden says it is also a haven for character education.

"We offer tutoring services for kids and help with homework, but we're also teaching kids the importance of things like honesty," he said.

The free program is housed at Westhaven Community Center and meets weekdays from 3-6 p.m. Response has been great, Burden said. The program has already expanded from seven children to more than 25.

The Good News Gang, described as "providing inspiration, motivation, and information for today's generation," has a home because of the Goldsboro Housing Authority, Burden said. Lilly Jones, sports coordinator for Westhaven housing, is also a volunteer who helps with transportation and sports programs for that community.

Outside the aging building, a handmade sign invites volunteers to support the program. That's how Ella Hawthorne joined the ranks.

"I saw the sign when I dropped off my son for a birthday party at the center," she said. Joshua, 9, now also participates in the program, and Ms. Hawthorne hopes to help children with English, writing, or art projects.

Arleen McCoy has been a volunteer for several weeks. In between fielding homework questions from several girls seated around a table, she said she feels good about her role.

"I like the program," she said. "I like how it's in this neighborhood and it gives the kids a place to come after they get out of school. It helps keep them off the street, and it gives them something positive in their lives."

Shakira Ray, and her cousin, Aleicia Wade, both 8 years old and third-graders at School Street Elementary School, say they enjoy coming to the center each day after school.

"Our teacher is nice," Shakira said, noting her favorite subject is reading.

Tanisha Graney, 9 and a fourth-grader at School Street, prefers math and said her favorite part of the program is snack time.

Fourth-grader Shaniqua Batts has aspirations to be a singer when she grows up. She said she likes being a part of the Good News Gang and sometimes helps the volunteers after she finishes her own homework.

"I enjoy the prayer time," she said, "and seeing my friends."

Burden said volunteers are always needed, and that in-service training is provided. Parents and retired teachers are also welcome to become a part of the program.

For more information, call 731-4533 or 344-8058.