Path To Shine is a community outreach afterschool program, jointly sponsored and staffed by volunteer members of the Celebration of Grace Lutheran Church and the Canton Seventh Day Adventist Church.
The focus of the Path To Shine program in Cherokee County is to support the educational needs of the families who live in the neighborhoods surrounding the church by assisting the children with their school work.
The two church organizations, both of Christian faiths, utilize the church facilities known as the Scott Mill Chapel at 411 Scott Mill Road in Canton for their worship services and various ministry programs.
The program at Scott Mill Chapel was started in 2012. One of the organizers of the effort is Dr. Carol Foster of Celebration of Grace Lutheran Church.
Foster is a retired educator with 42 years of experience, ranging from elementary to college grade levels, with a doctorate in early childhood education.
Her background allows her to see clearly how this program can benefit the children. Dr. Foster said the Path To Shine program is off to another good start this year.
“Seventeen children from the Scott Mill neighborhood are enrolled in the program and we will soon be at 20. Many thanks are due to our dedicated staff of volunteers,” Foster said.
The Path To Shine program was started by the Rev. Lesley-Ann Drake, an Episcopal deacon in Smyrna. The afterschool program has expanded to six locations in Georgia.
Drake has developed a detailed handbook for each site and oversees progress of each program. Training sessions are provided on an annual basis for new tutors to the program.
Ten volunteer tutors work with the children every Thursday afternoon at the church from 3 to 5 p.m.
The children range from 5 to 10 years of age and come from families where their parents have emigrated from Guatemala and other Hispanic-speaking countries, those involved in the program say.
The primary language of the parents is Spanish. However, the children, many who have been born in the U.S., have learned English as their main language.
That presents a challenge to the parents in helping their children with their homework, according to those involved in the program, and that is where the Path To Shine fits in.
Although financial support for the Path To Shine program is split equally between the two church congregations, several other organizations in the area have contributed to add to the success.
Contributions from Thrivent Financial have been obtained and grants are being applied for. Eye exams and eyeglasses have been provided through the generous support of the Service League. Refreshments for the children are provided by Forever Fed.
Through the donations of congregation members to this ministry, a children’s library of more than 600 books has been established and catalogued and the children are encouraged to check out a book each week to read at home.
A summer program of activities was implemented last summer and is being planned again this year. For more information, contact Dr. Carol Foster at Celebrationofgrace@windstream.net