Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dream With Me...

 
Today, I would like to take the time to introduce you to a local organization, Epoch Dream Center, that is doing HUGE things for our local community!  I've asked they share their story and how you can get involved!  Please share this post!!!  The more people we can make aware of all they are doing to help just one local community, the better! 
 
Epoch is all about showing how we truly are better together and have stepped up to make sure our children are geared for a better tomorrow!  Please consider volunteering your time or financially coming alongside them to ensure this program continues to reach our future!
 
 
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The Epoch Dream Center is a free after-school program servicing under-resourced children in Kindergarten through eighth grade. We are located in Hebron, MD, just minutes outside of the town of Salisbury. To paint you an accurate picture of Hebron, you need to know that there are approximately 400 children. Fifty percent of these children are living below the poverty level. In Hebron there is one school, one bank, one park, three churches, one local pizzeria, and one mini food market. (And that is about it!) Studies show that between the hours of 3:00 – 6:00 PM every day, students are most likely to experiment with alcohol and drugs, violence, and criminal and sexual behavior. If you were to drive through Hebron at this time of day, you can see plenty of children walking home from school, many of whom are unsupervised for a few hours.
 
So here is where we came in: about five years ago, our directors, JoAnn and Erin, saw a need to offer the children of Hebron a place to be supervised. They wanted to create a place for children to be fed, a place to be mentored, a place to be nurtured, encouraged, academically supported and a place to build character. And from that, the Epoch Dream Center was born!

Each day, when students arrive at the Dream Center they immediately participate in what we call the “Epoch Mantra.” They say in unison this declaration that they will have a positive, productive and purposeful time at our center that day. They then have a snack, have a “family meeting” (relationship building time) with their class, and they read for twenty minutes every night. Our students complete their homework, spend time with their interest-oriented club, have gym time, eat a family style dinner and participate in family chores.
 
So what makes Epoch different than any other after school program? One reason, is mentoring. We believe that relationships are the key to everything with our kids. We put so much effort in building relationships with our students because when we do that, we then have the right to speak life, influence behavior, and catalyze change in our students. To take this a step farther, we match every student with a personal mentor of their same gender who visits for at least an hour every single week. What better way is there to build relationships with these precious kids than through mentoring?


Another way Epoch stands out among after school programs is because of our focus on nurturing. One of our main goals is to fill necessity gaps that a child might have while they are growing up. A common gap that we see is the need for nurturing and encouraging. So, we show up. We show up to every concert, every school play, every award ceremony, every field day. We show up to the funerals for grandparents and brothers; we cut their grass while they get back on their feet. We are in the schools every week visiting and collaborating with staff. We hold kids when they are sick and when they are sad. We celebrate with them through every passed test, every project they give their best in. We listen to their hearts. We listen to their dreams. We listen to their frustrations. We listen to their cries because that person let them down again. We hear them. We know them. We know how different and unique they are. 

Epoch is different because of our desire to serve as “family." When we think about our own childhoods and how we are raising our own children, one of the most influential factors at play is family. So, we thought to ourselves, how can we recreate this family atmosphere at Epoch? Here is what we decided: we make our program operate like our own families. Every day we talk about our days… not just the “how was your day at school” … “fine” conversations. We discuss them. We talk about what was great and what wasn’t, and how we can change it for tomorrow. We get to know each other and we learn how to participate in family discussion. We eat dinner as a family every night. Our kids participate in chores and have responsibilities just like they would in our own homes. We build a sense of belonging within and among our children because we know that this is one of their greatest needs. We have had so many of our children whisper to us: “Epoch feels like my family.”
And finally, Epoch is unique because of the values that we instill. We have something that we like to call the “Epoch Code.” This code is what guides our teachings, our behavior interventions, our intentionality and basically our whole program. If you come to Epoch, ask any child to say the Epoch Code and this is what they would tell you: Work Hard. Respect Authority. Love Everyone. Forgive Quickly. We hold each of these values very highly and we believe they are the key ingredients to make successful, enjoyable citizens! If our students learn anything from their time with us, we hope it is how to do these four things. 

 So here is where you come in!!!

We are always looking for more mentors (especially men!) and volunteers. If you are interested in finding out more about this, please contact Rachel ( rachel@epochdreamcenter.com ).
 

Although, our greatest need at the moment is financial. Our program is expanding, we are experiencing changes in funding, and we need a new financial avenue to keep our program running. Out of this we have created a child sponsorship campaign. We want to give you the opportunity to directly and positively impact the life of a child living in your own community! We have different sponsorship levels, as low as a $35 monthly gift to partially sponsor a child. There are multiple levels, all the way up to a complete monthly scholarship for a child at $300.

Would you consider sponsoring a child? Would you consider beginning a better story in the life of a child?

Maybe this could be something you do as a family, a small group, a club or a group of friends. Maybe this is something your church, religious group, or service organization could do? Think about this: if you could ensure that a child in your community, that goes to school with your children, could have access to the same nurturing, mentoring, encouraging, character development and basic human needs that your own kids have, why wouldn’t you do it?
 

 
We would love to come present our program and campaign to your group, just ask us! You can access specific information about sponsoring a child and more information about our program at our website, www.epochdreamcenter.com, and you can follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see what is happening day to day!

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