Huntsville Inner City Learning Center
Tell us about the history and mission of your ministry?
The Huntsville Inner City Learning Center (HICLC) celebrates its 10th year anniversary in 2015 as a staple in the lives of Huntsville’s inner city youth. What began in the halls of some of Huntsville’s toughest schools has since grown to operate out of its own building in Butler Terrace. The center offers a holistic after-school program for 1st – 7th graders during the school year, an 8-week Christian summer camp, and a Women’s Ministry. The after-school program serves approximately 40 children daily by offering 30 minutes of exercise, a comprehensive Bible study, a hot meal, and homework tutoring with local mentors. During the summer months, the center expands to offer a full-time summer camp program. Children are exposed to extensive devotional time, a wide variety of field trip activities, swimming, tennis, and much more. The recently renovated women’s ministry reaches out to the families of the students currently being served at the center to offer Christian counseling, job skills development, GED tutoring, and much more. The goal of the HICLC is to help students graduate high school. The goal of the recent Women’s Ministry addition is to build relationships with the entire family so that change and the knowledge of God will be multiplied. Finally, the center staff has begun to work in international mission work to the curriculum the students are exposed to. Each year beginning in 2016, two middle-school students will travel to Nicaragua as part of an HICLC team hosting a Vacation Bible Study for elementary students.
How do you see Jesus at work here?
The hands and feet of Christ can be seen in every corner of the HICLC. In one corner, you can hear His Word daily from the mouths of children as they read from the Word, even though most are behind in their reading and math levels by several grades. His teachings are brought to life as students memorize life verses such as 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12. They are reinforced as they are reminded to work with their hands, mind their business, and be dependent on no one. In another corner, volunteers are being stretched, encouraged, and challenged as they mentor students with radical and often difficult background stories. Volunteers are encouraged to use all obstacles, failures, and disciplinary actions as life lessons for the students. They are given the freedom to share Christ through the way they live their own lives.
What are your needs?
The needs are great at the HICLC and fit a varying array of gifts and interests. Assistance with the after-school program is the most pressing and ongoing need. There are several volunteer opportunities Mondays-Thursdays, including exercise program volunteers, meal preparation for the 40 children, Bible study teachers, bus drivers, and most of all, tutors. The program runs from 2:30 – 5:30, and exact volunteer times can be found on our website for each volunteering opportunity (www.hiclc.org). The Women’s Ministry is currently in the developmental phase, and needs devoted volunteers to spearhead job skills training, ministry, counseling, and mentoring. The heart and soul of the HICLC is that each individual who comes to serve would do so in a capacity that God has specifically gifted them in. The desire is that God would not only bless the families we serve, but the people doing the serving, as well.
How could someone get involved?
There are a number of ways to get involved with the center, depending on what your interests and talents are. Mondays-Thursdays during the school year, there is a great need for help in the after-school program. The exercise lasts for 30 minutes, and needs daily volunteer help. Bible study teachers are also appreciated for the 20-minute Bible study lesson. Hot- meal preparation for 40 kids is needed daily. Finally, tutors are greatly needed for 1.5 hours each day. During the summer months, additional volunteers are needed to assistance with the summer camp program. Opportunities include mentoring, discipleship, tennis and swim instruction, chaperoning, etc. Throughout the year, groups are encouraged to volunteer to do building maintenance and landscaping, special events (such as the Give it Back Track 5k on the first Saturday of every May), and a variety of other special projects. The best way to learn about volunteer opportunities and center needs is through the website (www.hiclc.org), or to contact Susan Callaway, Program Director, at email@example.com.