The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sunday Profile

February 5, 2012

Friends R Fun gives kids skills to cope with life


Center director: God has blessed us

Friends R Fun director Judy Olson says she believes the child development center has been blessed by God.

When the center was first getting its feet in its new building, things were very tight financially, she explained.

When bills came in, Olson would place notes on them that listed how much more tuition money would be needed to pay the bill.

Somehow, the tuition would come in and bills would get paid, but the center was running hand-to-mouth, she recalled.

At one point, the center prepared paychecks for their employees and Olson discovered they were $1,000 short of being able to cover the checks.

“I remembered reading some stories when I was a little girl about God answering prayer, so I went to see if there was a miracle in the mailbox. I remember there was nothing,” she explained.

“We prayed about it, but we were then trying to decide if we would hold the paychecks for a day or ask them not to cash them,” she continued.

“About 30 minutes before the end of day, a man walked into the building and said that his mother had sent him a check from California six weeks before, but he was tired of looking at it sitting on his desk,” she said.

Olson opened the envelope and discovered a check for $1,000.

“That is just one example of how God has kept our doors open,” she shared.

“If I had known how much blood, sweat and tears this project would be I don’t think I would have had the courage to start, but I really do feel that God has blessed us and that he is really the director of this center,” she concluded.

 — Sarah Plummer

GED class offered

Several years after Friends R Fun opened and began fulfilling the community’s need for affordable child care, the center realized the community was also in need of a GED program.

“In Nicholas County, 33 percent of adults do not have a high school diploma,” said Friends R Fun director Judy Olson.

“Our GED program started, again, because of a need,” she explained. “If a parent does not have a high school diploma, it impacts children and their learning and desire to stay in school. They get in a cycle of dependency and we are trying to break that and help families.”

Friends R Fun runs a GED program next door to the child care center and has anywhere between seven and 15 adults enrolled at a time.

Last year, 70 students got their GEDs through the program, Olson reported.

— Sarah Plummer

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