Former saloon transformed into after-school facilitycomment (0)
April 17, 2014
By Julie Payne
Transforming a former saloon in Riverside into a kid-friendly, after-school facility required a recent all-hands-on-deck effort for the Alabama chapter of Campers on Mission (ALCOM).
Even the ALCOM ladies — who typically assist with lighter-duty sewing projects while on the worksites — rolled up their sleeves to clean and do most of the painting.
The group of 27 ALCOM volunteers arrived at the former saloon March 17 and worked through April 2, finishing two days ahead of schedule.
Within the two-story building, the group did carpentry work, removed and replaced all ceiling tile downstairs and built a new exterior façade, among other major tasks.
“We were very pleased with the accomplishments,” reported Ken Conaway, project co-leader. “This work crew was outstanding. God sent us people with the exact skill set we needed to accomplish the job.”
And as a result of ALCOM’s hard work, the nonprofit organization Quest Kids Club & Family Center will officially open its doors June 2 to the Riverside/Pell City area.
The idea for an after-school program in the area came from Kari Callahan, 24, associate minister to children at First Baptist Church, Pell City.
Callahan has felt called to ministry since she was in high school, and while volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club during college she felt God stirring a passion in her to begin an after-school program.
Fast forward to November 2013, when First, Pell City, was searching for a freezer to store 150 boxes of frozen Thanksgiving meals.
“God provided the freezer in a vacant building that had previously been a saloon,” Callahan recalled. “While making arrangements to use the freezer, the owner of the building asked if there was a way we could use the large building for any kind of ministry. At that moment it was like God said, ‘Here’s your kids’ club.’”
To actually transform the former saloon into a kids’ facility, several people suggested to Callahan the idea of using ALCOM for the interior construction work. The organization was contacted, and within a week both Conaway and Bill Foster, who ultimately co-led the project, met with Callahan at the building to hear her vision for Quest.
“What a blessing [ALCOM was],” Callahan said. “They were so supportive and confirmed that they could do the work in three weeks. So we got everything ready for their campers to park in our lot and got all the supplies donated for them to work with by March 16.”
In addition to their volunteer labor, ALCOM “encouraged and supported the work that God is going to do through Quest Kids Club,” Callahan noted.
Callahan will serve as Quest’s director and said they will enroll up to 100 kids at a time. “My goal is for 50 percent of those kids to be on scholarship through donations,” she said.
Quest will be offered for kids in kindergarten through sixth grade. It isn’t associated with any one church, but it will offer Bible-based summer day camps and after-school clubs.
For the summer day camps, kids will be placed into “squads” according to age and gender. Squads will travel to different tracks, such as computer, art, recreation, lunch, snack and devotion.
In Quest’s after-school clubs, once children arrive a snack will be provided while a Bible lesson is taught. Kids will then go to designated areas to finish their homework, followed by opportunities for playtime.
Quest also will offer family events as well as parenting classes. There will even be opportunities for churches and other organizations to use the facility.
“I truly believe that Quest Kids Club is going to impact the lives of children and their families for the gospel,” Callahan said. “I see us reaching parents through their children and involving them in churches in our area.”
Her father, Ric Callahan, who serves as minister to children and families at First, Pell City, said God has prepared his daughter “for such a time as this. ... Through her leadership, Quest ... will reach children who need to know the love of Jesus and provide a great service to their families.”
For more information about Quest, visit www.questkidsclub.org. For more information about the work of ALCOM, visit www.alabamacom.org.