woman in red shirt smiles. standing in classroom
Grow Point Church member Collen Brown laughs with students Tuesday while volunteering in a third-grade classroom at Stevan Dohanos Elementary School.


AUGUST 30, 2023 | It’s back-to-school week in Lorain City Schools, and the atmosphere is bustling with excitement at Gen. Johnnie Wilson Middle School as students and staff gear up for the new year. Among the crowd this Tuesday morning is a group of enthusiastic volunteers from A Fresh Wind Church.
They are part of a new initiative, Adopt-a-School, a growing partnership with 17 local churches that provides support, love, and good vibes, adding a team of helpers to every school in the district.
Lorain’s Adopt-a-School initiative is modeled after a successful program in Cleveland, Northeast Ohio Adopt-a-School Network, that works with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The goal is to help schools by giving churches, businesses, organizations, and individuals the resources they need to directly support students and teachers, whether providing school supplies and food baskets or mentoring and tutoring.
With the vast number of faith-based organizations in Lorain eager to volunteer, getting Adopt-a-School off the ground has been exciting for all involved. Intercultural Coordinator Walseka Sota is leading in recruiting, matching, and training volunteers. 
“We had the opportunity to jump into this Adopt-a-School program, which gives us a chance to give back to our community, meet the kids, and help our teachers wherever they need help,” said Pastor Tim Holt, lead pastor at A Fresh Wind Church in Elyria. “When this was offered to us, we didn’t know what it was. We went to a lot of meetings, got a lot of background checks, and learned that what it gets us to do is minister to our kids and help out our teachers who are trying to educate our children.”
On Monday, A Fresh Wind Church volunteers greeted families with coffee at Gen. Johnnie Wilson. At Admiral King Elementary School, volunteers from First Lutheran Church welcomed families during kindergarten orientation. On Tuesday, A Fresh Wind Church returned to their adopted middle school to welcome students into the building and hand each a bracelet with the words, “We need you. We care. You matter. We love you.”
House of Praise International Church wrapped up the week by feeding Garfield Elementary School staff breakfast on Friday. 
“I am so excited to start the 2023-2024 school year with the amazing A Fresh Wind Church here with us,” Gen. Johnnie Wilson Middle School Principal Nikole Davis said Tuesday. “They have adopted us, and already we feel so loved.”
When it came time to implement Adopt-a-School across Lorain Schools, district officials were encouraged by what they heard about in Cleveland but found inspiration in Stevan Dohanos Elementary School, where a partnership with Grow Point Church in Amherst, which is in its third year, is proving that a bit of love can go a long way.
“They greet the children when they come in during the morning, they help at lunch, they have after-school clubs, they volunteer in the classrooms, they work very well with the teachers, and being now that we are in year three, our teachers are acclimated, our parents are acclimated, our students know them by name – and our teachers even write them into their lesson plans,” said Stevan Dohanos Principal Marie Deshuk.
Father/daughter volunteering duo Colleen Brown and Rick Crow are in their second year of volunteering, and this year, they will spend their time in two third-grade classrooms.
“I really enjoy seeing the kids walk in smiling and how they have accepted us. That was so cool,” Crow said. “Just the joy we got just to meet kids and get to know them.”
“And they remember you, everything about you,” added Brown. “Getting to know them through the school year and know their name. They can come and give us hugs. It’s very nice to be able to be that part of their day.”
If your church wants to join the Lorain City Schools Adopt-A-School Network, contact Intercultural Communications Coordinator Waleska Soto at [email protected] or call (440)830-4082.

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