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Benefit to help Pathway ministry reach at-risk children

Posted: October 23, 2012 5:14 p.m.
Updated: October 24, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Pathway, a small ministry that offers tutoring and mentoring to at-risk children, is having a benefit concert at the Fine Arts Center (FAC) of Kershaw County from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday featuring the Blythewood Jazz Orchestra, State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, State Rep. Laurie Slade Funderburk and Kershaw County School District Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan.

The event is free and the money donated through concessions and general donations will benefit Pathway’s dedication to help “keep Kershaw County children on the right path.”

Terri Robinson, a retired state employee, started Pathway in one room of a house on Bethel Worship Center’s campus, located on York Street in Camden, in December 2009 after meeting eight children in need of extra guidance through Bethel. The program utilizes every inch of the four room house to provide assistance to 36 Kershaw County School District children.

Pathway is “covered under” Bethel Worship Center, Robinson said. They serve children in pre-school to eighth-grade. Pathway is run by volunteers who teach their children about health and taking pride in themselves and what they have. As Pathway aims to “treat the whole child,” they teach students to develop the “good solid character” found in many figures of the Bible, although Robinson said the children do not have any specific religious affiliation to be accepted into the program.

Self-esteem is as big a focus as academics said Robinson, because students have struggled in school and the self-esteem is low.

“There’s no stinking thinking here,” she said, a saying that one of her volunteers often says to students. “Don’t tell me what you can’t do, show me what you can do and we’ll work from there.”

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. each week, students focus on their reading and math skills. Not every child in Pathway struggles with an academic issue, however; there are two Special Educational Activities Geared for Unique Learning (SEAGUL) students in the program. Pathway is a ministry that strives to positively influence the home life of each of its children.

“We are so much more than a homework/mentoring center,” Robinson said. “If we ignore the needs of the family, then we can’t work as effectively with the child,” she said.

Robinson and her team of seven volunteers, including two college students, help parents help their children academically and socially despite language barriers or financial struggles, ensuring that “students can’t fail if given the opportunity to succeed.”  

The opportunity to serve a wide age range of students is invaluable to the program because older children can become a “model” for younger students so that they pick up on the tools they need to succeed. Students work one-on-one with other students to improve their reading and phonics skills.

“We are a family here. Those are my kids,” she said. “There are dreams here and I want to see them reach their dreams.”

Pathway has “outgrown the shoe,” Robinson said in reference to the children’s tale. Robinson and her volunteers are hoping the benefit -- where the community will be able to sponsor a Pathway child for $10 a month or supply one time donations -- will help supply their growing needs.

“These are children yours; let’s all work together to help them overcome adversity. We need to show encouragement and the right tools, love and the right words.”

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