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Kids club blossoms in its first four years

Rachel Foldoe and Kristen Denning created a kids club in 2002 as part of their social work class at Minnesota State University Moorhead. They wanted to create something that would get Moorhead children involved in their community and improve the ...

Destiny Sepeda, 5

Rachel Foldoe and Kristen Denning created a kids club in 2002 as part of their social work class at Minnesota State University Moorhead.

They wanted to create something that would get Moorhead children involved in their community and improve the children's neighborhoods.

They didn't expect it to multiply from a group of 10 kids into an organization that serves almost 200 neighborhood children on a weekly basis.

But within 18 months of its creation, Foldoe and Denning's class project became the Bennett Park Kids Club, under the direction of Believers Fellowship Church in Moorhead.

The club recognized its first four years Wednesday.

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"This is probably 100 times more than what we ever thought or dreamed it could be," Foldoe said Wednesday, as children's laughter and shouts echoed through Bennett Park in south Moorhead during the club's weekly gathering.

"When we wrote the grant, we had no idea that it would be our church that would be leading it," said Foldoe, who is now the director of the church's youth group, Pyromania.

Believers Fellowship Church took direction of the club in 2003 and turned to Moorhead resident Joe Bennett to help increase community and neighborhood outreach at his namesake, Bennett Park.

"You have to have a lot of love to work with these kids," Bennett said. "They're a fantastic group, and it all boils down to love."

The Bennett Park Kids Club has also spawned numerous other activities, such as sports teams, community service events and dance classes.

"The grant was written with the intent to get the kids to do something - to raise up leadership," said Denning, who is now the community action director at Believers Fellowship Church.

"Seeing character development and leadership come up in these kids is definitely one of the main benefits."

Adult church leaders help mentor teenagers and children in the club, Foldoe said, and such mentoring efforts helped teach the children morals and other life lessons that they can pass on to their peers.

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"It's been really awesome to see them go from shoplifting and lying to our faces to just this week telling younger ones not to do that," Foldoe said.

Foldoe said she also hopes to see the teens they're mentoring today develop into the mentors of future generations.

"I hope that they're the ones that transform the community," she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 235-7311

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