For many of us, Thursday nights are just another night. Laundry, supper and maybe some housework are the main focus. For Booth University College graduate Laura Hepditch, Thursdays are what she calls a “calm chaos” of supper plates, games and about 30 children coming through the doors of The Salvation Army’s Heritage Park Temple church in Winnipeg.

Every Thursday night, kids are picked up from their homes by bus, brought to the church and fed supper. There, they get the opportunity to play games, do crafts and learn about the Bible from Army volunteers. Laura, a member of The Salvation Army herself, oversees the whole production, called Kids Klub, in her capacity as children and youth ministry co-ordinator.

Taking on the position before she even graduated from college, Laura is thriving in her post.

“I feel like I am at the top of the world!” she says.

As the program requires a large number of volunteers to run smoothly, Laura often depends on former Booth University College classmates to help. “Some have even acquired Class 4 licenses and have taken on the full-time responsibility of driving the kids home,” she says.

Laura says one of the reasons Kids Klub works so well is because it is a full-service after-school program including supper, pick up and drop off, which takes the pressure off parents and guardians.

A Life Impacted
Though the program is usually full of fun for most kids, every now and then a child comes through the doors with extra challenges.

An experience that stands out for Laura was the evening when an older child wanted to leave the program and started walking home.

“I was a volunteer at Kids Klub before I was hired,” says Laura. “So I already had a relationship with this child, and I knew he liked me and trusted me.” She walked with the child as he headed for home, telling him that he could still turn his day around, and that he was welcome to rejoin the group at Kids Klub.

“He told me, ‘No, I’m a bad kid. Everybody tells me I’m a bad kid,’ ” Laura recalls. “I told him, ‘You’re not a bad kid! Every time I see you, you brighten my day! You’re a good kid!’

“The next time I was there, I saw him. He came up and gave me a hug.” 

Though the child is now too old to attend Kids Klub, Laura is sure his life was impacted by the leaders and volunteers at Heritage Park Temple.

Investing in Success
“I feel like I am using my gifts well,” Laura says. “I’m pretty loud, and can be firm with kids who need it, but I can also be gentle with kids who need it. I can balance the two things well.”

As Laura continues in her role, she has many new initiatives to promote community. She is looking forward to working with other Salvation Army youth co-ordinators at local churches to organize junior high school youth meetings, with the end result of creating a network of children and youth in The Salvation Army who are connected with God and one another.

“I’m forever grateful that The Salvation Army wanted to invest in me, and in this area of ministry,” she says.

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