By Lauren Burns, For The Bloc
For more than 20 years, the Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Maryland has worked with Langley Park children through two outreach programs: the CARing (Children at Risk) Project and En Camino con La Comunidad.
The Lutheran Campus Ministry partnered with La Sagrada Familia Outreach, a Latino ministry of the Evangelical Church in America, on both programs.
En Camino con La Comunidad provides academic support to students who may not receive it at home.
“Many of the parents of the children that we serve are immigrants from Latin America and speak limited English, so they are not as able to help their kids out with homework,” Lutheran Campus Ministry program and administrative assistant Georgia Metz said.
The Rev. Rosario Hernandez-Cruz directs La Sagrada Familia Outreach and selects elementary school students to participate in En Camino and the CARing Project.
The program often matches members of UMD service groups and living-learning programs with two or three Langley Park students to help them with reading and math skills, said the Rev. Ray Ranker, Lutheran Campus Ministry chaplain.
The tutors work with the students for two and a half hours on Wednesday afternoons at the community room of the University Landing Apartments. The apartments are in the heart of Langley Park, less than three miles from the UMD campus.
Kim Hess, the student leader of En Camino, said she joined the program on a whim as a freshman.
“I immediately fell in love with the En Camino kids and have been involved in the program ever since,” the senior history major said.
The Rev. Elizabeth Platz, a former Lutheran chaplain, started the CARing Project in 1993, Metz said.
The programs pair 20 students from second to sixth grade with a UMD student volunteer for the full semester. The pairs play outside, read and complete an activity each Thursday afternoon, said senior multiplatform journalism major and CARing project peer minister Maddie Tallman.
Although the CARing Project changed its format over the years, its focus remains the same: “to give children a role model to look up to and a positive experience with learning in a safe environment,” Metz said.
Tallman said she volunteers with the CARing Project because it exposes college student volunteers to the young students of Langley Park’s world.
“It’s a chance for kids to get removed from that environment for a little while,” Tallman said.