California Congregation’s Afterschool Ministry Enables Students to Transcend Poverty
While Christopher Hall’s route to success was not always smooth sailing, he says his life’s journey was boosted by a Rising TIDE.
Rising TIDE (Train Individuals to Develop and Excel) is an afterschool ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Long Beach, Calif. Hall, who was born into poverty in an urban neighborhood, at age 33 owns two construction/restoration businesses, enjoys being a husband and father of three and relishes his new home.
If not for Rising TIDE, however, he said life might have been much different for him and many of his friends. He said the program continues to change the lives of children and youth.
“It’s not kids coming here just to hang out,” he explained. “Rising TIDE helps you become something better. We could easily have become gang members or been involved in alcohol, drugs or other negative things.”
Rising TIDE offers tutoring, enrichment opportunities, sports and physical fitness activities, and life skills training. Students can get homework help and spend time in the library, computer room and the science lab. They also can lift weights, play basketball, take art lessons and learn how to prepare a simple, nutritious meal. Its programs serve children and youth from pre-school through high school.
However, Rising TIDE is about more than programming for the 100 students it serves every Monday through Thursday. It places a premium on building relationships.
“Those who come from helpful and supportive families experience the Rising TIDE family as a supplementary family,” said the Rev. Rob Langworthy, who co-founded Rising TIDE with his wife, the Rev. Adele Langworthy. “Others who don’t have that kind of family at home find Rising TIDE as their source of support and inspiration and guidance and encouragement.”
The Pentecost Offering, one of four Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) churchwide Special Offerings, helps make Rising TIDE possible. Children-at-risk, ministries with youth and Young Adult Volunteers benefit from Pentecost Offering gifts. Sixty percent of the Offering goes to the work of the national church and 40 percent is retained by congregations like Covenant, which seek to make an impact on young people in their own communities.
Hall said the Langworthys bring a high level of commitment to Rising TIDE. “They are always going to be there for you,” he said. Rob is pastor of Covenant, and Adele is the associate pastor of the congregation and executive director of Rising TIDE. The program began in 2003.
“Rising TIDE is their life,” said Ikea Brazel, lead supervisor for Rising TIDE and an alumna of the program. “They give so much of their time, sleep, and energy just to be here and make it happen for the children.”
Their commitment also inspires others to invest time in Rising TIDE. Brazel is among many former students who stay connected to Rising TIDE after high school. Hall has served as a volunteer and a staff member.
“When you get involved here, you know you make a difference,” Adele Langworthy said. “Some days might be kind of hard, but it helps put life in perspective and you realize that some kids are really hurting and are going through a lot. If you want to make a difference, you can make a difference here.”
Rob Langworthy noted the program has its best success among students who begin the program in childhood and continue through adolescence. “Well over 90 percent of those who are involved in the program for several years go on to college or university,” he said. “We have a lot of success stories of people who have achieved in life beyond what a lot of people might have expected them to achieve given their givens in life.”
Across the United States and around the world, the Pentecost Offering helps young people achieve their God-given potential.
This was originally published for Presbyterian News Service on May 15, 2019.
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