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Salvation Army expands to offer after-school care

August 27, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Diane Rowe was hanging out in the playground behind The Salvation Army the other day when a young boy approached her, holding up his bare foot to show her a cut and asking for a bandage.

Rowe took care of the boy's need and realized he probably would not have approached her had he not associated her with The Salvation Army and the activities he attended over the summer.

It is that very feeling of familiarity, caring and safety that Rowe hopes will continue with other neighborhood youth now that the agency's new after-school program is getting under way.

Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m., children in kindergarten through sixth grade will be able to do their homework, be tutored, use the computer lab, have nutritious snacks, and play inside and outside on the playground in the 500 block of George Street, Rowe said.

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"We are reaching out to the children and neighbors in a two-block radius," Rowe said.

The after-school program will cost families $15 a week for each child they send, which works out to $1 an hour, Rowe said. There are scholarships for children in need and discounts for families with more than one child.

"We want this after-school program to lead to other ventures ... wherever we see the needs," she said.

A flier was to go home with every student at nearby Winter Street Elementary School on the first day of classes.

"I've been out in the neighborhood talking it up, too," Rowe said.

Eventually, there will be several computers for children to use, as well as safe and supervised access to the Internet.

She foresees field trips on The Salvation Army's two buses, cooking classes and, perhaps, parenting and budgeting classes for parents.

Rowe, 44, is married to Daryl Rowe, who works in maintenance at The Salvation Army in Hagerstown. She came to the Hagerstown branch in May as the youth development coordinator. She worked at the Frederick, Md., branch for the past seven years.

"I was a general manager at a McDonald's restaurant before," she said. "My husband and I met at that fast-food chain - over an order of Chicken McNuggets."

A member of The Salvation Army Church for 15 years, Rowe said she was called to work with children and has fulfilled her quest.

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