Region 8 outreach program hopes to change the lives of teens

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

CARUTHERSVILLE, MO (KAIT) - Back in 2006 many homes, businesses and churches and Caruthersville were destroyed when a tornado hit.  One of those destroyed was the Divine Holiness Outreach Ministry.  However, out of the destruction grew a new purpose.

Folks with the church say they saw the need in the community and knew they could make a difference.

"I help the pastor with basketball coaching.  I help him get the little kids together because I play basketball myself for my school," said Claude Taylor.

Caruthersville High School student Claude Taylor is one of the organization's success stories.

"Back in the day when I didn't have this I really was a bad person but now I'm changed because of all this," said Taylor.

"We try to pull the young adults at an early age, primarily the ones that have gone left and we try to put them on the right path," said outreach program director Carlos Larry.

Larry said they've seen many kids like Taylor, but know there are more out there who need help and aren't getting it.

"We just want to do something to make the area better.  We want to just be positive for everyone," said Larry.

Pastor Jamie Jones says Caruthersville is poverty-stricken.

"We just took it on our hearts to step in and to be big brother, be dad, be mom.  Whatever we have to do to have a strong impact on their life," said Jones.

The same kind of impact they've already had.

"It is a good thing to help you get your life turned around because you're not on the streets doing all that nonsense," said Taylor.

Larry said many of their teens don't have strong families supporting them.

"The majority of our kids are from a single parent family or no parents," said Larry.

"Growing up, it was hard for me because I have my mom and my father passed away so it's really been hard for me until the pastor came along," said Taylor.

Now Taylor tries to do for others what this ministry has done for him.

"I know what it's like to be that little person because I was that person dealing with things that other people deal with like little kids on the street and things like that," said Taylor.

They've just recently finished construction on a building across the street from their church. They already do an after-school meal program Monday through Friday, feeding more than one hundred children.  They hope to be fully in the building by January.

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