Deveroux Mitchell was looking for a place where he and the kids he mentored from Malvern could play basketball and talk about life.
The local resident had turned to different places and people, but only one place offered what he was looking for — the Agincourt Church of God.
Patricia Wynters, a youth pastor at the church, decided to combine their youth group with Mitchell’s basketball and mentoring program.
The results were successful and the church and Mitchell currently have 36 young men involved.
“Basketball is just a vehicle that I’m using basically to grab [the youth] because they want to play so badly that they are willing to pay attention and listen to instructions about life on a broader scale through the game of basketball,” Mitchell says.
Wynters says the church can only afford gym space once a week, and she does not want to promise the kids more than they can pay for. But there is so much more the church can offer.
“We want kids to know that they don’t have to go to the mall, we have a good sound system and we’ve got movies, but of course they have to be clean, so we cook, you eat and we bus you home and life can be grand in a simple way,” Wynters says.
The church funds the majority of the programs and volunteers like Mitchell serve as tutors and mentors. Reverend Jean Henry prepares the meals along with volunteers.
Community programs have always been run by the church, but it has decided to officially launch them all on March 17. This would include a tutoring program from Mondays to Thursdays, and a youth group and the gym space on Friday.
Wynters says anybody is welcome regardless of religion or ethnicity.
“We’re saying here is a place where you can call home if you’re out there with nothing to do and you want to hang out somewhere, come to church, it’s going to be open,” Wynters says.
Wynters says she knows there are a lot of good people in the Malvern community that genuinely want to help but they don’t know about the program.
Among many people Wynters mentioned is Navid Nabavi, who she says has volunteered his services to teach children web design.
After the programs officially begin the church also plans to start a program for young mothers called Sisters of Service Ministry, that will focus on the needs and concerns of new mothers.
“We want to see these young moms grow, we want to see them blossom and we want to see them reach for whatever goal they have,” says Veronica Dyer, who helps mentor young women and is helping start the young mothers program.
“We don’t want them to feel like they’re stuck where they are.”
Anyone who would like to help or participate in the programs is welcome to call Patricia Wynters at 416-321-3028 or the church at 416-321-3127. Youth who want to join can also contact Patricia Wynters for information.