Pastor Ron Saari and Central Baptist Church Tutoring Programs: Bethel University’s Presidents’ Community Partner Award Recipient

Through the strong leadership of Pastor Ron Saari, and his commitment to serving Saint Paul Midway community, in 1998, several folks at Central Baptist Church came together to develop an after-school tutoring program for neighborhood children. With funding from the Central Foundation, a director was hired and the program was launched.

Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon from October to May, children from the surrounding community come to Central for homework help, reading support, and skill building. Snacks and recreation round out the child’s one-on-one time with a caring adult tutor.

As Central Baptist Church and Bethel University share the same parent denomination, a partnership was formed in 2000. Bethel has provided tutors through the Federal Work-Study and Community Service Learning Program supporting Central Baptist to achieve their desired one-to-one student/adult ratio.

Central Baptist’s after school program serves 20-30 children at a time. These children come from ethnically diverse, economically challenged situations and represent 8-10 different neighborhood schools. Pastor Ron Saari and the program director Shawna Horn, a licensed educator, provide oversight to this active partnership with support from an intern, church volunteers and Bethel students.

In addition to this, the following program activities take place every summer at Central Baptist Church, through its pastor Ron Saari’s leadership. Bethel students have been involved in working with the church staff on these programs.

Children from the Midway and Frogtown Summit University communities, who have completed Kindergarten through grade 5 participate in Power Packed Day Camps sponsored by the CBC. Through this program, the children may choose one or more fun weeks of exploration around the Twin Cities, swimming at local beaches, learning new skills and sports, and growing in character and self-discipline.

For youth who have completed grades 6-12 get the opportunity to travel together to nearby state parks, to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and every other summer, to Tijuana, Mexico for a cross-cultural service oriented trip.

Pastor Ron Saari and his Central Baptist Church have been a vital partner and a sojourner as Bethel continuing to advance community and civic engagement efforts, so it with great delight he is nominated to receive the MN Campus Compact Presidents’ Community Partner Award.

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