Orchard Blooms in Winter

During these colder months, we celebrate and reflect on the birth of Jesus and the New Year.  While we bundle up for the harsh outside weather, Friendship House has plenty of activities to keep our children and families warm.  In this newsletter, we want to give you some insight into Friendship House’s Orchard School Program location. We’d also like to share our plans for family engagement nights at Friendship House because of your support.  Our children and families continue growing in their relationships, education, and walk with Christ because of YOU!

Orchard Blooms in Winter

The buzz of kids moving between classrooms, the smell of delicious food, and the sound of innocent laughter describe the front hall at Friendship House. Because of your support, all these actions can also be seen at our Orchard School location.  As part of the growing Friendship House program, we serve at Friendship House and our kids at the Orchard School. At Orchard, kids can use everything from classrooms for learning to the gymnasium and playground for exercise and socializing.  

Program leader Jane Frank came to Friendship House looking for a way to tell kids about Jesus.  When she started, she went to the program at Orchard School and has been there ever since.  She says, “At Orchard, a family could expect a kind and consistent staff that are safe and responsible, and who love caring for kids and each other.”  Jane then explains that at Orchard, our space includes some classrooms, the cafeteria, and the gymnasium. With this space, Friendship House can enrich children’s academic lives through programs like Razz Kids and Mango Math. 

Friendship House’s Orchard school program serves 75 kids daily and constantly finds ways to keep kids engaged with physical, educational, and spiritual growth.  Not only does Jane love to help kids and provide as much stability and acceptance as she can, but she also has the aid of some other excellent Friendship House Staff. One of the staff working alongside her is Troylynn, a Friendship House alum.  Watching the kids in Group E, Troylynn plans lessons and activities for them.  Jane and Troylynn express how Orchard School gives them the space to spend personal time with each child.  “With any kid, coaching behavioral issues can be a constant challenge,” says Troylynn, “but being able to spend one-on-one time with them lets us direct each kid towards a more positive state of mind.”

The evidence of Friendship House’s Orchard Program’s hard work is most present in the children it serves.  Kyle* and Katie*, twins attending Orchard, have been going to Friendship House for three years, but most recently, they have been going to the program at Orchard and say they love all the friends they’ve made.  They enjoy outside games the most, including one-ball dodgeball.  When talking about the program, Kyle says, “I enjoy Orchard because I get to play a lot and eat good food.”  His sister, Katie, said, “I remember math time the most because we do a lot and get to learn on the iPads.”

We are so grateful to our Orchard site staff and their dedication to the children and families we serve.  They exhibit the love of Jesus wonderfully, and we can’t wait to show you all of the great things they do as they continue to provide children and families with a safe and comfortable place to grow and engage.  We also thank the Orchard principal, Dustin Gaugler, and his School Staff for sharing space with us.

Family Winning

We all focus on the things that matter most during the holiday season.  Chiefly among those things is, of course, family, friends, and Christ.  To that end, Friendship House is doubling its efforts to engage and captivate children and families to create a positive and helpful community in South Side Billings.  To do this, Friendship House hosts “Family Engagement Nights.”  These nights are simple yet effective events dedicated to the idea of bringing families closer together.  In a space where they can be cared for and have fun, Program Director Ashley Erekson says, “. . . this time gives us a chance to bring some of our program families together, love them, and give them something fun to do.”  

The most recent Family Engagement Night was a Christmas movie and dinner, but plans for more activities are underway.  Events like this provide an excellent, inexpensive outing for families and help our Friendship House youth develop their skill-building, socialization abilities, and other critical soft skills.  Ashley says, “. . .these activities are fun, simple, and as easy to access for the families as possible.  

The Christmas dinner and movie will keep families entertained and cozy during the cold weather.  However, there are plans for Family Engagement Nights to have activities outdoors or at other venues, such as roller skating.  “We do these activities three to four times a year for now and hopefully expand them in the future.” Says Ashley.  

Friendship House is confident this program will help families build each other up to help us create a space where everyone feels like they belong.  We can’t wait to create lasting memories and celebrate the love of Jesus with each other.

Garden Update

AS you may know, Friendship House recently acquired the property across the street from our 3123 8th Ave S. location, thanks to the support of our donors and the Billings community. This space will soon become an expansion to our on- site garden, serving as a space to teach kids the importance of nutrition, healthy eating habits, and growing and maintaining healthy produce. This is where you come in! Can you please help us finish the project? To find out how to help, please call (406)247- 0140 ext. 111 and speak with our volunteer coordinator to sign up or get more information. Thank you again so much for getting us this far, and we look forward to showing you what comes next!

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