MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday, as part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. This week, we caught up with a group that believes in educational fun after school.

Darius Watson grew up attending the after-school program at Emmanuel Center, located in South Memphis. His grandma was the one who sent him. “Helped me stay out of the streets. Helped me grow as a man.”

Monday through Thursday, Watson, who now works at the center, along with Joyce White the Director of Programming, walk a few streets over to meet the bus from Larose Elementary– one of the many schools they serve.

Emmanuel Center provides after-school educational and recreational activities. Angie Johnson is the Executive Director. “Educational resources that they wouldn’t have access to. Making sure they get their homework done and giving additional help with reading or math.” 

As soon as the kids walk through the door, they’re offered a healthy meal. After eating, it’s free time to get out that extra energy.

You’ll find students playing basketball, working on puzzles or playing video games– an opportunity to unwind before homework time.

“We have a lot of kids that wander the streets if they don’t have a place to be,” said Johnson. “We try to make sure they have a safe place and a safe space to be a regular kid.”

You can tell by the smiles on their faces they’re having a lot of fun during one of the most crucial times of the day for students.

“It’s good for when you get out of school. Keeps you off the streets and stuff,” said Delano Nunley, a sixth grader at Booker T. Washington.

That is why Brown Missionary Baptist Church wanted to give Emmanuel Center $1,000 because the best thing you can give a child is the ability to be one.

A true community changer.

For more information about Emmanue Center, click here.