Searcy K-Life going strong into summer

By Lisa Burnett , Emily Van Zandt Originally Published May 12, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 10, 2013 at 10:21 a.m.
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Nick Hillemann

Gracie James, 11, selects snacks from the table at the Searcy K-Life house. The ministry moved to its current location nine months ago.

— Nine months after relocating to be closer to the students it serves, Searcy K-Life is going strong.

The ministry, which stands for Kanakuk Life, is an interdenominational Christian organization that reaches Searcy youth through Bible studies, mission trips and after-school activities.

On its website, K-Life’s mission is described as “the ability to build relationships with kids and bring the content of God’s word to bear on those relationships.”

To help further that mission, Searcy K-Life moved last August from a now-demolished house on Elm Street to a one-bedroom ’40s-era home at 810 N. Elm St.

When a K-Life Board member was running in the neighborhood last year, the empty house caught his eye. Although the new K-Life location is on the same street as the old one, the new house is in a prime spot right next to Searcy Junior High School and the Searcy High School football stadium.

“This house gives kids a safe place to come after school,” said Josh Monroe, K-Life co-director.

The new home sees nearly 100 students visit three days a week. High school students swing by on Monday evenings, with junior highs dropping in on Tuesdays, and fifth- and sixth-graders attending on Thursdays. Students are kept up to date on goings-on through Facebook and Twitter, which staffers update with an enthusiastic number of exclamation points.

While Bible studies don’t kick off until 5 p.m. or later, many students drop by the house straight after school for snacks and a few rounds of tag, four square or basketball.

“The greatest thing about this location is the proximity to the junior high and the football field,” Monroe said. “We can do tailgates right outside the house and offer free food to [fans].”

K-Life activities typically wind down as the school year ends, but the organization has big plans for the summer, partnering with the No Kid Hungry campaign.

“We’re going to provide meals to kids two days a week,” Monroe said.

K-Life will be one of several nonprofits and churches in the Searcy area participating in the program, which offers a free meal to children who qualify for their school’s free and reduced-price lunch program.

This summer will be the first time for K-Life to participate in the summer food program and also marks the first summer that Monroe — who started work in August — will be with the organization. Monroe lives in the K-Life house full time and will spend the summer working with the No Kid Hungry program. Many other K-Life staffers head to Missouri during the summer to work as counselors at Kanakuk Kamps, run by K-Life’s parent organization.

While K-Life will be locally less active over the summer, Monroe said, donations to get ready for next year are always welcome, including money and outdoor equipment.

“It takes about $80,000 to keep operations going,” Monroe said. “We’re usually scraping barrels to get to that every year.”

Thirteen states in the U.S. currently have K-Life chapters, including ministries in Conway, Fayetteville, Harrison, Ozark and Vilonia. The Searcy K-Life chapter, which has been active since 1998, will start its weekly activities again around Aug. 26, when school begins.

Staff writer Lisa J. Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4301 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com., and staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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