Simpson students say ‘shalom’ to volunteer work

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by Aaron Daniels

A simple Hebrew greeting has deeper meaning at Simpson.

Shalom Zone Ministries offers an after-school program which many Simpson students volunteer at.

Shalom Zone offers a number of different programs for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. It is a non-profit, faith-based program devoted to reducing the internal and external pressures of poverty.

Shalom Zone is held at the Gatchel United Methodist Church in Des Moines. Simpson’s group volunteers Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

This program is devoted to working with inner-city children. Besides providing these children with a place to go after school, the program offers a lot more. The children are given a safe place to play, do homework, have something to eat and learn new skills to help cope with life.

Executive Director Mary Ellen Evans appreciates the amount of effort that has been put forth by Simpson students in helping these children involved in the program.

“They have contributed so much and we’re very pleased to have their help,” Evans said.

Junior Chad Scieszinski volunteered for one of his classes. He said he enjoyed the experience.

“Volunteering was something new for me, it was a good experience to help others,” Scieszinski said. “I’m happy I got the opportunity to get involved with Shalom Zone because it really gives you a chance to make a difference.”

Shalom Zone Ministries is always looking for more volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of others.

The program focuses on interaction with the children. Once they get out of school and make their way to the Gatchel United Methodist Church, they have a choice of activities. The activities are separated by grades.

“The kids use the computers, have art and crafts, do their homework, play board games and when it’s nice outside they will play kickball,” junior Jennifer Bryant said.

The Shalom Zone has been a beneficial organization to the Des Moines inner-city community for many years. By providing children a place to go while their parents are working, it has made a difference in the lives of many.

Bryant finds volunteering at the Shalom Zone a good way to be a role model for younger children.

“After they get to know you they become more outgoing and trust you,” Bryant said. “Over the past three years I have volunteered there, I’ve seen a lot of growth and maturity in the kids I have got to work with.”