Two years ago, Amelia Allen (‘19) was attending a program at her church where she learned about Restoration Rome, a center in Rome for foster children and the foster families. Allen was so moved by their presentation that she felt compelled to talk to the representatives at Restoration Rome about their need for volunteers.
Allen and classmate Matyah Jackson (‘19) developed the Restoration Rome Mentors program which kicked off this fall. A total of 13 Darlington students are involved in the program and head to the Center the first and third Thursday of each month.
“Originally we were going to start with a tutoring service but we quickly learned that it was also important to have fun things to do,” said Allen. “The kids that come to the after school program don’t have to stay there and we wanted to create activities that made them want to stay.”
All of the Darlington students involved in the mentoring program first received training on how to work with foster children.
“We quickly learned how important it was for our mentors to remain consistently involved in the lives of these children,” Allen said. “We carefully selected our mentors and everyone has been serving diligently throughout the year.”
The Restoration Rome Mentorship program is sponsored by Upper School math teacher Taylor Boyle who is new this year to the Darlington Community.
“I saw this program as a unique way to build relationships with students and to be a part of the Rome community,” said Boyle. “These children look forward to having these familiar faces come and work with them every couple of weeks and the kids are running to them as soon as we walk in the door. I think this is a great way to strengthen our relationship with the community and to gain a different perspective. It helps us to take a break from the things we get caught up in today in our society and give back.”
The hub for Restoration Rome is in the former Southeast Elementary School building located close to Darlington School. This resource center serves the community through a food pantry and clothes closet and also provides after school enrichment programs, childcare, and mentor and tutoring services for children in foster care.
“This has been a huge commitment on behalf of our Darlington mentors. Consistency is something that these children lack and being able to see the same kids each time is important,” Allen said. “The after school program at Restoration Rome is so much more than just helping children with their homework. These students truly learn through hands-on experiences. They have a garden where they grow their own food that they get to take home. They are learning about woodworking and there are amazing team building activities. I hope that through our program they also know they have a buddy, a mentor”
Restoration Rome and the Restoration Rome Center for Foster Care Services are local ministry initiatives of Global Impact International, Inc., serving children in care of the Division of Family and Children Services, at risk families, foster and adoptive families, and the underserved of Rome and Floyd County. Click here to learn more about the program.