by Anthony Hampton, CCN Vital Families Team Leader
For those of us who have witnessed or been a part of anything overwhelmingly successful, there’s a common theme that marks the occasion. When an individual graduates from school, a business lands a large contract, or your favorite sports team wins a championship, the one word that is often used to describe how they accomplished it is “together.” In essence, what the representative for either of those scenarios is acknowledging is that without others, they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the goal that had been set. This is the case for the Vital Families in Schools (VFS) partnership with Saint Andrews Church and Western Hills Elementary School.
Saint Andrews has a history of encouraging families through church/school partnerships. Twenty years ago, under the leadership of the late Carla Thomasson, the Church started a program called ‘Give a Kid a Chance’ (GAKAC) providing backpacks and school supplies to Central Arkansas students. GAKAC quickly became a citywide event with an increasing number of participating churches. Building on the relationships from the event, the church began a partnership with Wilson Elementary School that continued until the school closed in 2017. The church, however, did not lose sight of its vision for church/school partnership.
Following many of the staff, students, and families they had grown to love, they launched a new partnership in 2019 with Western Hills Elementary. Through an annual back-to-school event, an active mentoring program, and providing volunteers for other various school events throughout the year, St. Andrew’s sees these as vital opportunities to serve the families of Western Hills. In addition to these opportunities, the Church sees itself as a safety net providing support to the families of both the students and staff and providing for additional needs the school may have as they arise. St. Andrews truly believes in being the hands and feet of Jesus, preaching the Gospel with our actions, as well as our words.
We are thankful for the great relationship that’s been fostered through the work and efforts of this VFS partnership, as well as all our current VFS partners for how they are serving families in the schools where they are connected. We’re thankful that these churches are helping to lead the way in strengthening families because they recognize healthy families are vital for student success and community transformation.
Imagine the collective impact of a church/school partnership at every school in Central Arkansas, loving children and their families. Working together, Central Arkansas Churches can continue to make this possible for the good of our community and the glory of God.
For more information or updates on any of these efforts, please contact Anthony Hampton (firstname.lastname@example.org).