One minute a student is doing homework and the next minute the kids are fighting each other.
Instead of staying home after a long day of school, Aiken County kids have a safe and fun place to go with Aiken County siblings.
The Aiken County Public School District continues to take steps to recruit bus drivers.
“The program is about teaching our children about life in general,” said Charonica Pope, director of the Brothers and Sisters of Aiken County program.
Brothers & Sisters of Aiken County is a program for children in the Aiken County public school system that helps them develop teaching and leadership skills. The program, which includes summer and after-school programs, aims to help children develop their math, reading and writing skills.
The agency was founded in 1982 and serves children from kindergarten through 12th grade. Additionally, the agency prepares youth to graduate from high school, prepare for post-secondary education like college, or help them enter the workforce.
Before moving to its current location at 132 York Street, it was housed at the Smith-Hazel Recreation Center until 2000. The agency is funded by United Way of Aiken County.
There is no cost to participate in the program, but those interested should apply. Pope said the only things parents and guardians can contribute are snacks and transportation.
The proposed addition to St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic School took another step forward on Tuesday night.
The agency also offers summer camps, youth and parent conferences, mentoring and etiquette classes.
Pope said the mentorship program is made up of men and women, who meet the needs of the students. She said both men and women serve as mentors to children and act like adults.
Pope has been with the agency for 30 years and created all programs for Brothers & Sisters of Aiken County. She said that over time she created new programs because she wanted to teach children more than education.
“I felt like coming here they needed to learn more about how to be an individual and that’s a person that matters,” she said.
Pope said that every day she instills education into the lives of her students. One example Pope gave was making sure his students did an A/B honor roll.
She said her path is to encourage children to do their best and guide them on the right path.
Pope said that other than the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club and other small youth agencies, there really isn’t a whole lot for kids to do or places to go when the parents work.
Children can have free meals every day of the week until school starts thanks to the summer meal program.
“I think it’s made a difference and impacting our community and our kids by having a place they’ve come to after school,” she said. “Not just for school work, but for a mental state,” she added.
As a volunteer, food and education assistant Denise Daniels said she enjoys working with children and watching them grow.
She has been with the agency since November 2020 and has been enjoying it so far. She helps the children with their homework and prepares the students for the next year.
“They have this determination to want to learn to want to grow,” Daniels said.
Schofield Middle School student Josiah Kennedy said he can’t remember when he started coming to Brothers & Sisters of Aiken County, but he liked getting help with homework.
“You come here, do your job and they help you,” he said.
Kennedy said he also likes having a male mentor.
“They’ll give you something to do,” Kennedy added.
Ameriah Wilson, 9, has been attending Brothers & Sisters of Aiken County since classes resumed in August. She likes the way she can do her job, learn new things and the teachers are really nice.
Wilson said the hardest thing she learned was to use a dictionary.
“I love it and how we can learn even when we’re not in school,” she said.
Pope said she sees a lot of former kids who were in the program now as adults and loves hearing their success stories.
“They come back and say ‘thank you’ and ‘I never knew what I would have done if it wasn’t for you,'” Pope said. “‘You were there when my mom wasn’t there, and you didn’t give up,'” she said.