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Backyard ministry on Southeast Side becomes nonprofit Community Kids

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

What started as a backyard basketball Bible club is now a nonprofit that regularly serves 200 kids through adventure trips, mentoring and summer camp.

/Community Kids

About Community Kids

Community Kids exists to transform communities through kids by providing long-term, life-changing, worldview-expanding relationships, led by Jesus Christ. We do this one block at a time – by creating neighborhood programming that empowers kids to become leaders. And we do this one kid at time – by partnering with neighborhood parents to bring kids into mentoring relationships. 

Donny, volunteers and youth at the Michigan Men's Retreat.

Donny, volunteers and youth at the Michigan Men's Retreat. /Community Kids

/Community Kids

A ministry that began nine years ago – when youth trespassed into the founder’s backyard to play basketball – is now Community Kids, a 501(c)3 nonprofit serving kids on the Southeast side. As a nonprofit, the ministry will continue to deepen relationships with kids -- providing Bible clubs, adventure trips and summer camps, all while equipping volunteers to be consistent mentors in kids’ lives.

Executive Director Donny Irving wanted to start a transitional home when he moved to his neighborhood in 2010, but at first struggled to gain trust with neighbors. Irving received a series of threats and considered leaving -- but then another neighbor began inviting Irving to his porch, sharing his story and telling him, “Something should be done for the kids around here.”

Soon after, youth started trespassing in Irving’s backyard to play basketball. He didn’t kick them out but joined them and eventually invited them to have a Bible study. Today, the ministry serves kids weekly through Bible clubs – held at partner organizations and churches – and through “adventure trips” – held everywhere from Lake Michigan to McDonald’s. The past two summers, the ministry sent 150 kids to Camp Michawana and Camp Beechpoint. 17 kids are in long-term mentoring relationships, with more being waitlisted and targeted in group settings.

Tahir, now 19, felt welcome since the first time he attended Bible club eight years ago:

“I kept coming to Bible study because the environment there was very cool and carefree,” Tahir said. “I changed myself from an old me to a brand-new man.”

1500 kids reside within a half mile of Irving’s home, but Irving has found that only a fraction are involved in a local church or ministry. There are lots of nonprofits on the Southeast side, but Irving believes the more ministries that serve kids, the better. The heart of Community Kids’ vision is to provide people who are available to serve kids 24/7, since they face challenges at all hours.

“Kids are the greatest asset to their communities when they have people to support them,” Irving said.

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