Care & Share supports Empowerment Center

Cesar Gonzalez

CAMBRIDGE – Over 50 children from the ages of 5-12 are participating in FLAG (Fun Learning About God) Camp at the Empowerment Center on Pine Street. Each Monday through Thursday they are provided with two meals and a snack, academic support, arts and crafts, sports and field trips.

They start each day with breakfast and a “Praise Party” and then move on to other activities. While other camps in the area cost up to $175 per week, FLAG Camp at the Empowerment Center costs just $60 for all six weeks.

FLAG Camp started five years ago at the Cambridge Adventist Church. “At first it was just six or seven kids,” says Pastor Cesar Gonzalez, “and, although I was pleased, I also felt we could do more for the community.”

That same year Pastor Gonzalez got a call from Dave Cannon of the Care and Share Fund to work together on a night out for at-risk kids. The event went well, but Pastor Gonzalez felt he could do more with the same amount of money.

“I told Dave I thought we could do a whole week of camp if we worked together,” Pastor Gonzalez said. “The next year came and on the first day we had the same six or seven kids. I freaked out, so I made a bunch of flyers and walked up and down the street for a few hours handing them out and talking to people. The next day we had 20. By the third day we maxed out at 45. That’s how FLAG Camp really got off the ground.”

The camp grew in popularity, but the staff noticed that the kids wanted to have lunch earlier and earlier. “When we started asking why, we found that many of the kids were not eating well during the summer because they didn’t have the usual school meals. So you would see these kids running around on the street with a candy bar and a soda and that was their meal for the day,” Pastor Gonzalez said. “Once we understood the problem we knew we had to do something more. That’s when we joined forces with the Empowerment Center.”

After meeting with Portia Johnson-Ennels, Joyce Green, and Barbara Bishop, we came up with a plan to feed the kids breakfast, lunch, and send a snack home with them each day. The group also teamed up with Meals til Monday to provide food bags for the weekend.

FLAG Camp was held at the Empowerment Center for two weeks with the Adventist Church providing the staff and curriculum and the Empowerment Center providing the facility, meals and other personnel. That was 2017, then in 2018 they made the jump to six weeks.

“It’s been hard,” said Pastor Gonzalez. “The budget went from a few thousand to over $35,000. It costs about $800 per child for the summer, but we are committed to keeping as many children as we can help from going hungry.”

FLAG Camp has become a community effort. Besides the Cambridge Adventist Church, the Care and Share Fund, and the Empowerment Center, many other local organizations and businesses have joined in to help.

Delmarva Community Services has provided discounted housing and local restaurants have sponsored meals for the out-of-town staff.

“Jimmie and Sooks, Don Chuy and Katie Mae’s were the first ones to sign up. Since then Snapper’s and Carmela’s Cucina stepped up. We really could not do this with out them,” said Pastor Gonzalez. “We are always looking for partners to help us feed the children. We are just making it right now, so please reach out to us if you can help. I know the Lord will provide for the kids.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Cannon is employed as the Banner’s advertising director.

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