LIMA — We’ve all heard the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In that case, Debbie Boquist would be the head of that village.
She has started Kids Hope USA in the Lima/Allen County area. This program sends mentors into local schools for one hour once a week to help children who are at risk. This would include children who the school sees as not succeeding because of poverty, academics, divorce, home life, etc.
Boquist is the wife of Pastor Doug Boquist at Lima Community Church of the Nazarene. They have lived in Lima for four years.
Boquist received a call from Sandy Monfort telling her she was nominated for the Jefferson Award.
“It was a funny thing because when I got the phone call about getting the award, it was a day after the whole awards thing, the Academy Awards when they made a mistake. Sandy said, ‘I’m just telling you we have this award for you and I’m not going to call you back in 10 minutes and tell you it was a mistake.’ So it was funny,” Boquist said.
Being relatively new to Lima, she had never heard of the award.
“I wasn’t sure what it meant. I had to ask her about that. It’s quite an honor and then reading the bios on everyone else, I think, ‘Man, I don’t quite fit in this group.’ It’s an honor,” Boquist said.
Kids Hope USA is a national program. Boquist found out about it when her family lived in Cleveland.
“When we found out we were moving to Lima, I decided this was something we wanted to bring with us,” Boquist said. ”Jill Ackerman was all for it, so we started it at South school first, and then Unity, and now we have it at South, Unity, Liberty and Independence. It’s also … at Columbus Grove, Spencerville, Allen East and Elida.”
Volunteers go to the schools and mentor, one on one, with a child who needs help.
“The beauty of Kids Hope is that you get the attention of adults for one hour each week who sits across the table, looks you in the eyeball, and lets you know that they care about you. As busy as our teachers are, they would love to be able to give that kind of attention to each child, but they can’t, and some children just need it more than others. It’s wonderful. The object is to stay with that child through their school. As they get older their needs change, but the relationship has been built. It’s a beautiful program,” Boquist said.
For information or to volunteer with a Kids Hope USA school, contact Boquist at email@example.com.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.