City of Hope Outreach, a local nonprofit group serving impoverished community members, is sponsoring a community carnival today.
Civic leaders, community members and Kohl’s volunteers will offer activities for the children of Oakwood Village mobile home park from noon to 2 p.m. Activities will include game stations, a dunking booth, food, face painting and a bounce house.
The event, in its second year, is open to the public and will be held at the mobile home park on Robins Street in south Conway.
COHO co-founder Nicolle Fletcher said the carnival serves as a culmination to two of the outreach’s children’s programs as reward for their work throughout the year.
"Everything we do is hardcore relationship based," Fletcher said. "The kids obviously know they’ve worked hard for this. They see same volunteers that have actually cared for them throughout the year and that motivates them to put forth the effort."
The outreach offers one and a half hours of tutoring services to 30 children daily in grades K-6 Monday through Thursday after school. The children have the opportunity to participate twice monthly in the King’s Club, which Fletcher described as a hyperactive version of vacation Bible school — two hours of "really fast, physical, interactive, deep concepts and crafts."
The tutoring program will shift to a breakfast, lunch
and book club initiative in the summer.
COHO was founded in 2007 when Fletcher’s husband, Phillip, made a wrong turn on Bruce Street while driving home from work.
"He said the Lord put it in his heart that was where he was supposed to preach the gospel," Nicolle Fletcher said. "We realized there was a need there for not just the gospel word but also the gospel deed. City of Hope is our expression of the gospel deed."
COHO is based in the mobile home park. The organization partners with area churches and civic groups to hold worship services on the park premises and to provide a community center, tutoring services and various aid programs to people who are homeless or otherwise impoverished.
Fletcher said the COHO idea was met initially with some skepticism.
"I heard over and over again, ‘Are they going to see what’s here and then run away?’ But we haven’t left and that has brought a lot of hope, and many relationships and intimate connections within the community," she said.
The outreach now includes around 15 volunteer staff members.
To learn more about City of Hope and its mission, visit wwww.cityhopeoutreach.com or call 205-1614.
(Megan Reynolds is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 505-1277 or by e-mail at email@example.com. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net)