King’s Kids expands

Published 11:19 pm Friday, September 23, 2011

Taking a break from a recent planning meeting for the new King’s Kids of America sites are, from left, Kennell Rhodes and Pastor Kenneth bender of Deliverance Until Sundown Ministries in Norlina, N.C.; Betty Milteer Knight, executive director of King’s Kids; First Lady Birddie Hargrove and Pastor Thurman Hargrove Sr. of Refuge Temple Ministries in Alberta; and Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Roberts.

Tonight’s annual anniversary celebration for King’s Kids of America Inc. will be a bit different than those that have come before it.

There still will be the traditional naming of Kings and Queens from among those children who participate in the program the late Bishop Dr. Obadiah Colander founded in Suffolk. There will be drawings for bicycles, always a highlight of this annual event. And, like last year, there will be a “Fun Day” on the grounds of Heaven on Earth Ministries following the main program.

This year, though, participants will celebrate more than just another birthday for the organization. This year, they also will celebrate its expansion for the first time outside of Suffolk.

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Two new sites — one in the South Hill area and another in Norlina, N.C. — have been added to the King’s Kids family, according to Executive Director Betty Milteer Knight.

“This means a lot, because it is a vision that the late Bishop Obadiah Colander had that is coming to pass now,” she said. “It means that other people are taking hold of that vision.”

King’s Kids aims to teach young people from 4 to 23 how to make decisions that will keep them out of trouble and make them productive members of society.

The program runs weekly for an hour at each of seven different sites throughout South Suffolk. Participants take part in games, activities and projects, and they learn about a variety of topics, ranging from etiquette to health, safety and leadership skills.

More than 22 years ago, Bishop Colander, who was the pastor of Faith Temple Ministries Apostolic Church, decided something needed to be done to help Suffolk’s children and teens learn to make good decisions.

His idea of training the whole person — mind, body and spirit — grew from its original location in his church to the point where it now serves hundreds of Suffolk children around the city.

Knight said Colander’s son, Bishop John Collander, who serves on King’s Kids’ advisory board, told friends at Refuge Temple Ministries in Alberta and Deliverance Until Sundown Ministries in Norlina about the program.

After representatives from those organizations visited in July to learn more about King’s Kids, it was agreed that they would start new chapters, Knight said, adding that she also has had interest from churches in Portsmouth and Hopewell.

“Bishop Colander said it would take 20 years” for the program to really take off and spread outside of Suffolk, she recalled.

Tonight, while they celebrate another year of service right here at home, King’s Kids participants and supporters also will celebrate the continuing fulfillment of Obadiah Colander’s dream.