The Brightside: Kids Cafe
Its been running strong for about 20 years, and there’s no sign of it slowing down.
The Kids Cafe program run by Salisbury Urban Ministries is making a big difference in the lives of local children, and the woman who runs it.
It started out as an Americorp assignment four years ago, and has blossomed into a career for Carlyse Matthews.
She was tasked with helping out with the Kid’s Cafe, a program aimed at giving area kids a meal and providing tutoring after school.
However this young Mom did so well, she now leads the program.
“I want to say I’ve worked with 40 different kids since I’ve been here. I love what I do. I love coming here. And this is one job that I don’t regret coming to.”
Agency leaders say, like Debbie Donaway, say Carlyse is uniquely qualified and really invested in the kids.
“She was an assistant Kids Cafe coordinator. Through the time and changing in staff, she became the coordinator. I think the one thing that she brings the most to us is the fact that she knows the neighborhood and she knows this population.”
Carlyse says she sees all of the kids in her care as her responsibility.
“I still keep in contact with a ot of them. I have that one-on-one relationship with their parents that they will text me or call me if their child is in trouble.”
“When there’s a situation, we had a child being bullied. She jumped on the phone and called mom and went and met the bus driver, called over to the school. that relationship has been the most valuable part to us.”
14 children come over to the Kids Cafe every semester. Kids get a meal, tutoring and love from Carlyse and her volunteers. She says they are always looking for help.
“They can donate time. We need a lot of volunteers, snacks, we give them snack
everyday. I mean time is a valuable thing because they love when we get new volunteers, they love interacting with different people.”
Carlyse says she’s found her calling and is a better person for it.
“I get out of it, patience. I’ve been here like I said for four years and they’ve taught me a lot of patience.”