Everyday children from J.P. Starks Elementary and surrounding DISD schools walk home to Village Oaks Apartment Complex where a crossing guard is waiting for them. The speed limit is cut to 20 mph in the school zone, and children are out to play – not all Village Oaks children though.
Dozens of children make their way from school to Behind Every Door’s “Kids Club” in the Village Oaks Community Center, which teaches enrichment in the arts and reading and provides a safe place for the children to retreat after school.
Kea Westbrook is Behind Every Door’s community director for the Village Oaks neighborhood. The past two and a half years, she has seen her work make a difference in the community. Children have matured and grown in their reading and writing skills.
“Behind Every Door is a nonprofit organization that focuses on sharing the Gospel with communities,” said Westbrook. “We want to see people live the lives that God intended and to reach their full capacity.”
“Wherever there is darkness, we want to shed light,” said Westbrook.
“Kids Club” is an after school program that serves the children in the community. Behind Every Door collaborates with other organizations to provide a daily program of academics, art and dinner, according to Westbrook.
The first hour is devoted to academics, the second hour is free play to decompress from school, and the third hour is for art enrichment. People from all over the world and the Dallas area lead the children during these three hours. Scottish tutors and college art students have taught the children.
“We want to expose them to opportunities they might not have and make them college ready,” said Westbrook. “Kids Club” is doing just that.
Westbrook has seen children’s harden hearts soften. Children have also learned to trust the Behind Every Door staff and to become vulnerable around them. Westbrook admits she learns to love them deeper and differently when they trust her.
Many of the “Kids Club” children have learned to solve all of their problems through fighting. Through this program, these children have been able to escape that environment for just a few hours a day, said Westbrook.
Michael Guevara, 9, and Josiah Guevara, 6, have been devoted to “Kids Club” for over 2 years. Even though the Guevara family moved out of Village Oaks, the parents encourage their children to attend the program daily.
“’Kids Club’ is a safe place and a good place to learn,” said Michael Guevara.
Malik Dorch, student at J.P. Starks Elementary, says he likes getting his homework done at “Kids Club” because he has a lot of responsibilities at home.
According to Westbrook, one of the only ways Behind Every Door can be successful is through volunteers and mentors. The organization wants the children to build relationships outside of their small communities.
“We try to teach and correct in love,” stated Westbrook. “There is a story behind every door.”