Milton-Freewater church launches free tutoring center

The center opened last month to offer Grove students a helping hand. The church's pastor aims to expand the program to cover Freewater and Ferndale as well.

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MILTON-FREEWATER -- First Community Church has launched a free after-school tutoring center geared for local elementary school students.

After opening its doors Feb. 1, the Across from the Library tutoring center is serving about 11 children in second, third and fourth grades from Grove Elementary.

Doug Henrichs, the church's pastor, said the goal is to eventually expand the tutoring service to students from Freewater and Ferndale schools.

The center is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays on school days from 4-5 p.m. The church's convenient location across from the city's public library yielded the center's name.

Students register for the service, and are then paired with a tutor for a half-hour per day. There is a strong focus on literacy, finishing homework, or spending time on whatever subjects students need help on. Henrichs said the students are also highly encouraged to get library cards should they not already have one. Visits to the library and checking out books have become part of the routine.

"We want to push that," Henrichs said about accessing the library. "We want to take advantage of that."

With about four weeks since opening, the center has a good number of children signed up, as well as student tutors from McLoughlin High School, and community volunteers. Before being able to serve more students, the center will need more volunteers, Henrichs said.

The idea to establish a tutoring center at the church began more than a year ago, when a consultant brought in to look at the church suggested an exploration of the church's identity in the community, Henrichs explained.

Establishing a connection with local schools by offering tutoring was one initial idea, given First Community's connection with many district staff and families. Then Henrichs happened to see a video of author Dave Eggers on receiving the 2008 TED Prize. The Technology, Entertainment, Design Prize gives $100,000 to individuals with a dream or mission to impact communities.

Eggers helped establish a free tutoring center in San Francisco, called 826 Valencia, as a way to support local youth through education. Because the building where the center was established was zoned commercial, Eggers and his crew opened up a pirate supply shop within the center, lending a buccaneer feel to the site.

As part of his TED award, Eggers then challenged others to work with community schools in similar fashion, for the benefit of children.

Henrichs said he was inspired by Eggers' tutoring center, and realized doing something similar in Milton-Freewater was possible.

"We're keeping it pretty simple. We don't have to meet any goals," Henrichs said. "We just get to sit down with a kid and give them some one-on-one attention."

The Across from the Library tutoring center is at First Community Church, 13 S.W. Eighth Ave.

To learn about volunteering as a tutor or for more information on the center, call 541-938-4549.

Maria P. Gonzalez can be reached at mariagonzalez@wwub.com or 526-8317.



Tutoring center details

The Across from the Library tutoring center is at First Community Church, 13 S.W. Eighth Ave.

To learn about volunteering as a tutor or for more information on the center, call 541-938-4549.

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