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OUR HISTORY

Rose City Kids was pioneered by a small group of people who were passionate about making a difference in their local community.  Hielke Janssens, Jocelyn Langendoen, and John & Sonya Wierenga, after experiencing various international mission trips and outreach programs, had a dream to invest into the children and families of Welland. This dream became a reality in March 2008 when Rose City Kids began its journey, its very first Saturday program, with 13 kids. Initially, Rose City Kids rented space from Holy Trinity Church in downtown Welland.

With a desire to have a place to call "home" to reassure the families that Rose City Kids was here to stay, the volunteers began their search for a place to purchase. During the summer of 2008, the team came across the Old Park Theatre, an abandoned building in downtown Welland. The team believed it would be an ideal location for the Rose City Kids. We made an offer, hoping the property owner would be generous upon learning about our mission. Unfortunately, the offer was declined twice. Consequently, we postponed the dream to own our space, considering that God had something else in mind. 

 

Each team member had a specific role in the ministry, and Jocelyn Langendoen's responsibility was to manage the administrative aspects of the organization and raise funds to cover daily operational expenses. During that period, raising funds was quite challenging for our ministry because very few people understood or had confidence in the program during its early stages.

In August 2008, we received devastating news that Jocelyn's previously treated cancer had returned. This was a tough moment for all of us. Since Jocelyn was responsible for managing administration and finances, she felt constant concern that she might have let Rose City Kids down. While she battled her illness in the hospital, her extended family, the Voortmans, came together to generously provide funding for Rose City Kids to purchase the Old Park Theatre and support its complete renovation. Even while she was extremely ill, Jocelyn understood the significance of this development. A few days later, she woke up and urged her husband to notify the newspaper about the purchase, to let the world know that Rose City Kids had a place and a future. It was clear that she fully understood the significance of this achievement, bringing a sense of peace. This realization fulfilled her dream and that of the entire team - Rose City Kids finally had a permanent facility, a space with room to grow for years. The renovation was completed in seven months, with all expenses paid in full. 

On January 22, 2009, Jocelyn's battle with cancer came to an end as she passed away peacefully. Her loss left a significant void, as she was not only a dear friend but also an integral part of the team. Moving forward during that time was a challenging season.

Nonetheless, Rose City Kids continued to expand, growing from one bus to five, from one building to three, and broadening its scope from a Saturday children's program to encompass tutoring, mentorship, leadership development, youth events, a children's choir, and summer camps. With the organization's growth, so did its volunteer base. Rose City Kids remained committed to providing support and resources to children and youth, particularly those from vulnerable and marginalized families. The organization offers a variety of programs and services designed to enhance the well-being and opportunities for young people in Welland. Rose City Kids aims to make a positive impact on the lives of young people through mentorship, educational support, recreational sports, leadership programs, and more.

Presently, Rose City Kids serves 700 children and youth through its various initiatives, with a volunteer base of over 100, an incredible staff of eight, a dedicated board, and a strong community that continues to support RCK. 

Reflecting on the past years, we are filled with gratitude for the progress that's been achieved. The remarkable connections forged between our volunteers and the families we serve tell an incredible story. Rose City Kids has become a safe haven for countless children and youth, empowering them to make a positive difference in their lives. We have grown in size, knowledge, experience, and love. We love our city. We love the people of Welland. We are humbled by the ongoing support and look forward to the road ahead.

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