March 6, 2007 - Posted at 5:21 p.m. CST
JONESBORO-Earlier in the year we asked you to help us decide what non-profit group K8-news should partner with in 2007.
After many stories from viewers, we decided on two groups.
The first of those is City Youth Ministries.
For ten years the mission of City Youth Ministries has stood strong.
"We serve the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of youth through education and recreational programs and teach them personal responsibilities," said Executive Director, Rennell Woods.
With a building full of mentors, great things are happening.
"I've seen some kids make some changes and just stick with those changes," said volunteer and intern, James Cox. "It's a needle in a haystack, but the good ones are there and we just try to lead them all in that direction."
City Youth is now leading nearly 135 kids a year in the right direction.
"I've seen kids learn respect. I've seen kids learn self control, most of all," said Woods.
Cox says his involvement in the program grew quickly.
"I would go home and realize that city youth has a lot of important stuff for those kids. So I kept coming back," said Cox.
Now, he wouldn't miss a day of being with the children.
"It's helped shape who I am a lot, just as much as it's probably helped shape who the kids are," said Cox.
And those probably benefiting the most from City Youth Ministries are the kids participating in programs like after school basketball, which gives them an opportunity to stay off the streets and make friendships that last a lifetime.
"Coming here it makes me happy if I'm bored. I get to come here and have fun with people around my age. It's real fun," said 16 year old Courtney Middleton who went through the program and now volunteers.
However, the program takes fun and mixes it with real world lessons, like a daily devotional and after school tutoring.
"You get to study and they help you with your work. If you don't know something they will try to go over it with you until you get the answer," said 10 year old Cavelius Pugh who's been going to City Youth for three years.
"People that I can talk to if I'm having any kind of problems, especially schoolwork because it is so stressful these days. Just coming here is a relief," said Middleton.
The youth choir also gives kids a chance to sing praises and give thanks for the opportunities they've been given.
"It's helped me stay out of the streets, and not get into a lot of trouble that I probably would have gotten into if this was not here," said Pugh.
"Violence, and drugs, and things like that are things I'm sad to see people my age do. Coming here, it just keeps them away from all of that," said Middleton.
At the end of the day, the kids leave with a hot meal and the confidence to once more face the challenges of being a teen.
"I think city youth has changed my life," said Pugh.
City Youth Ministries is currently working to retire a 163-thousand dollar debt, which would give them the opportunity to expand the program into other areas.
***For more information on City Youth Ministries log onto their web site at http://cityyouthmin.com.
***You can also call them at 870-932-9398.