(WSFA) - There are a lot of ways you can make a positive difference in a child's life. But what about a hundred children? It's a tall order, but one that's being carried out by Common Ground Ministries in a tough, west Montgomery neighborhood.
To put it into perspective, every afternoon about 85 youngsters flock to the Common Ground Community Center. After a workout running and doing their exercises in the gym, the kids move into the main building next door and a more structured environment that includes a supervised reading program.
Common Ground's founder, Bryan Kelly believes he, his staff and dozens of volunteers will make a difference in the kids' lives through their year round contact with the youngsters. "It's been beautiful just to be part of their lives," said Kelly.
Kelly is so committed to that proposition, he moved his wife and four young sons into the high crime neighborhood near the community center. They've been there three years. "When my children are separated from other kids," Kelly said," they have all kinds of prejudices - racialized thinking and all that. But I think more importantly we've learned how much we need those in our neighborhood. They've made such a difference in my life that I can't imagine living anywhere else."
Common Ground's next project is to covert a cavernous room in the back of the main building into a multi-purpose theater and meeting facility. "This is going to be a theater that's being created for the neighborhood where we can put on drama and performing arts deals," Kelly said. "It's really going to be a great asset for our neighborhood."
Kelly says his most pressing need is volunteers for his reading program. "We are down to a one-to-three or one-to four volunteer to kid ratio in our after school afternoon program which is beautiful," Kelly said. "We'd like to a one-to-one that's our dream so that the kids can be developed into reading and get specialized attention everyday."
He says he's looking for people of high character who will "love on the kids and read to them."