Photo By Ed Booth, Huth and Booth Photography River of Life Christian Center has partnered with Reflections Apartments located in Riverview through the Seeds Mentoring program where volunteers spend time with students after school with an array of activities as well as homework assistance.

Marcus Marshall, Outreach Director of River of Life Christian Center, knows personally how partnerships are the lifeblood of a healthy community. In October 2017, Marshall learned that the apartment complex down the street from the church was under new management, so he stopped by to introduce himself.

 “I wanted to let her know River of Life is not just there spiritually but also available for practical needs as well,” said Marshall. “So, I asked the simple question, ‘What can we do to help?’”

The manager told Marshall that the children living in the apartments needed positive after-school activities. Without structure or mentors, she was seeing that some of the students were getting into trouble.

“We gathered teams from our church to do a neighborhood cleanup day, and then in January of 2018 we started Seeds Mentor program,” said Marshall. “The word got out, and it started to grow.”

The program provides mentors to the children to assist with homework as well as fun activities such as games, arts and crafts, as well as Bible activities. The park in the back of the neighborhood provided the space for outdoor activities. The park only housed a playground, which was perfect for the younger students, but Marshall wanted to provide a space for some of the other students in the neighborhood. He felt a basketball court would be a perfect fit.

The volunteers went to work, and when the basketball court was completed, Marshall knew that this was key to instilling teamwork, friendships and hard work into the students. Riverview Chamber hosted a ribbon cutting for the official opening of the court on Saturday, August 4. During the event, the church hosted games, give-a-ways, and more than 100 book-bags were provided to students as they prepared to go back to school.

This event and basketball court was made possible by many local sponsors and businesses including eCycle, Jahner, Inc., and Oldcastle Cement.

“We believe we have the opportunity to be part of the story of these students’ lives that is being written. And as they go into their families, schools and grow up and begin to work, we want them to be seeds of hope, seeds of joy, seeds of love so that no matter where they are in life, they will never forget they can be a seed to help better someone’s life,” said Marshall. “We know it takes a village to raise these students and we are committed to building a better tomorrow.”

River of Life Christian Center is located at 6605 Krycul Ave. in Riverview and holds church services every Sunday. It also hosts a food pantry every second and fourth Monday, as well as the second Wednesday every month starting at 9 a.m. The pantry is not only for families in need but also an opportunity for people in the community to volunteer and serve in the community.

The Seeds Mentoring program begins Tuesday, September 11 of this year. For more information on volunteer opportunities or to donate, email mmarshall@rolccfl.org. For more information on River of Life Christian Center, visit www.riveroflifechristiancenter.org.