A new Columbia County Community Connections program has found a home in Grovetown.
Executive Director Julie Miller approached the Grovetown City Council in August asking for space to start an after-school program for youth development.
City officials voiced support for the program but said they didn't have city property available for the program to use a few hours most weekdays.
So the Grovetown Lions Club offered its facility.
"We're excited about it," said Tony Wilmoth, who met with Miller before finalizing the offer. "We're here for the community. That's what we're here to do, and we wanted to make sure it was a good fit."
Miller's after-school program, expected to serve 20 to 25 fourth- and fifth-graders, will be held weekday afternoons in the Lions Club building at the city park on Old Wrightsboro Road at Whiskey Road.
"It is truly a blessing that came our way, and we are grateful," Miller said.
Community Connections already leads after-school programs at Harlem Middle and High schools, North Harlem Elementary, Grovetown Middle, Grovetown Elementary and Cedar Ridge Elementary schools.
Those programs use certified teachers and focus on academics.
"We'll offer homework help, but will do more youth development," Miller said.
The programs will use team- and confidence-building exercises and community-service projects to help the pupils learn more life skills, networking and social skills, and help build self-esteem.
"It is just a little different approach," Miller said, adding she hopes to engage the pupils in community service.
Miller said she'll be consulting Grovetown school principals and counselors to identify pupils who would benefit from the program, including those with no extended networks of family or friends who need this kind of youth development.
Though the details of the program haven't been completed, Miller said she hopes to start in early October.
The building wasn't the only thing the Grovetown Lions offered Community Connections.
At its Sept. 9 meeting, the club gave Miller $1,000 for the Community Connections Saturday Sacks program.
The program sends bags of nonperishable foods home on weekends with children who school officials say come to school hungry on Mondays.
The donation will purchase more than 250 bags of food to be distributed to children at Grovetown schools.
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