At the Pink House Neighborhood Resource Center, children enjoy healthy meals while getting lessons about nutrition. They tend their own community vegetable garden in the backyard with assistance from local organic farmers, and are some of the few kids in urban Charleston that know what it means to grow their own dinner. Rev. Christian King notes that a healthy diet can be a difficult adjustment for children that live in an area where fresh vegetables are hard to find, but eventually, habits change and they share the vegetables and their new healthy habits with their families.
For supper, everyone sits down together for a mealtime with a hidden agenda: to teach communication skills through structured discussion of topics that include responsibility, being a good citizen and the children’s thoughts about current events.
In the evening, kids work on homework and reading. Older children read to and serve as mentors for the younger children. This develops confidence and self-esteem, and sets a good example for the younger children. Kids are called upon frequently to give oral presentations on what they’ve read to help them feel comfortable speaking in front of groups.
In the 1990’s, King realized that Charleston public schools were challenged when children began appearing in her Bible study classes without basic literacy skills. Looking outside of her own small, tightly knit church, she saw that things were even worse among other, larger congregations. With children growing up with reading challenges, King, with the help of her husband Kelvin, decided to start up their own after-school and summer school program to fill the gap!
She hatched an idea: bring church resources and organization back into the picture. However, she found it difficult to win the support of large churches with their plentiful resources and attendant bureaucracy.
After a long struggle to win their support, she was ready to give up. But Kelvin said, “Let’s just get a place.” Even with very limited resources, he was able to buy and renovate a dilapidated house by doing almost all of the work himself. Thus, the Pink House was born. Pink House is an acronym for People Innovating New Kinships thru Helping Others Uplift Service and Education. Some people were suspicious of their motives at first, but the couple developed a whole new relationship with the neighborhood regarding the Pink House.
The Pink House currently has only enough resources to serve one-quarter of the families that apply for their services. Their philosophy is, “There is someone else that you need to help and it is your responsibility, and it is an honor for you to be given that responsibility to help that person.”
After mandatory hugs with King, summer days or school year afternoons begin with physical activity on the grounds. She believes, “Play and release are essential for the spirit, and help the children get centered.” During “enrichment time”, a variety of topical programs are provided that feature guest speakers, field trips, and arts and crafts. King is always looking for volunteers to come in and share their passion with the kids. She says that a donated computer and printer is urgently needed in order for the children to be technologically prepared as 21st-century citize