Special Edition
Apr 28, 2009

A place to grow: Jubilee Center

by Dominique Mckay

 On college campuses around the U.S., students are constantly juggling schoolwork, part time jobs and social activities, but on the campus of Liberty University, some students willingly add one more item to the long lists of daily activities in the form of community service.

Each day after classes, a group of Liberty students participate in tutoring and supervising recreational activities with children from the Lynchburg community at the Jubilee Family Development Center located on Florida Avenue.

“Liberty University has been our main source of volunteers, and we would not be able to operate without them,” Sterling Wilder, executive director of the Jubilee Family Development Center said.

The center was founded in 1999 to help with the local community’s need for a program that targets at-risk youth. Now celebrating 10 years of service, the center has worked to meet its goal of leading children away from lives of crime and instead offers them programs and services that will help develop their academic and social skills. They have five major programs including the tutorial program, Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) program, occupational outreach program, internship program and college preparation program.

Each year, members from the center attend Liberty’s volunteer open house hoping to sign up new volunteers who are eager to help. Volunteers come from a variety of majors including sports management, family and consumer sciences and education.

“Every semester we get quite a few Liberty University students that are either doing their practicum or internships and many come to do their Christian service hours,” Ghana Ramey, director of Educational Programs said. “We also have had a couple students this semester and last semester come in and do job shadowing.”
Kody Kreis, a junior sports management major, began volunteering at the Jubilee in February for his sports management practicum.

“When the Jubilee was described, it sounded like a place where kids needed role models,” Kreis said. “I had a friend who worked at the Jubilee for a work study program. She told me a lot about the kids and how some come from difficult families or environments. Right when I heard it, I felt as if I should do this as my practicum.”

Student volunteers from Liberty’s History Honors Club threw the children at the center an Easter party and egg hunt. In the past, they have also put together Halloween parties. Ramey said she has students who come back every semester to do their community service because they get connected to the children who they help out.

“I really like playing basketball with the kids,” Kreis said. “It’s fun getting to know them through sports. I think kids usually open up more to people when they share something in common. At the Jubilee, a lot of the kids love basketball.”

“We are really grateful and we really depend on Liberty students that come down every semester. We don’t have a large staff here at Jubilee because we are a non-profit organization so everything is solely dependent upon support and contributions,” Ramey said.


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