by Blake Bramblett

CLEVELAND, Ga., (TMNews) – For three years, Truett-McConnell students have actively engaged their community with the gospel through the Foothills Young Scholars tutoring program.

Sophomore Atarah Campbell, who is a leader in the ministry, shared about the goals of the program: “Our main mission, and the main thing that we teach every week, is that Jesus is stronger, God is powerful, and in the end, God is going to prevail.”

The Foothills Community in White County has been known for drug abuse and Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) intervention. Three years ago, Truett-McConnell College partnered with Doug Bennett and Marlon Caldwell from the community to help develop a program called the Foothills Young Scholars Program. Under the direction of Keith Wade, Campus Minister for Truett-McConnell and Dr. Holly Haynes, Associate Professor of Behavioral Science, an afterschool program was born for the Foothills Community.

Caldwell and Bennett, who have supervised the program since it’s beginning, continue to help build the program in the Cleveland community. Caldwell, a former probation officer, currently supervises the program while Bennett, a former pastor in the foothills neighborhood, is also very connected with the people that live there.

Gospel goals

The program itself has three goals: it’s desired that each student involved grows to have a comprehensive knowledge of who God is, understands the methods to study the Scriptures, and has access to godly mentors who can guide them in their spiritual walk.

Secondly, it’s desired that all students involved have adequate and sufficient individual help for their academic studies, tools to improve their abilities in every subject, and a positive attitude towards learning.

Lastly, all students qualify to receive counseling for possible traumas or stressors in their lives, are provided a consistent mentor with whom they can trust, and are shown how to create a healthy view of themselves, others, and the world around them.

TMC tutors

TMC students volunteer to tutor children in the Foothills Young Scholar Program one to three days a week.

“The greatest need of the ministry would be people,” Campbell said when asked about the needs of the Foothills program. “We just need volunteers, people that have a heart for people, and especially kids,” she added. “We need people that want to be there, not people that are forced to just because they think that [it] looks good on paper.”

The program takes place from 3:00-5:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, and includes time for snack, Bible study, tutoring, and playing outside. Participating in this program has allowed TMC students to put into practice everything they’ve learned in the classroom: they actively use their knowledge of psychology, education, and missions to share the Gospel and disciple children in this community.

A true investment

What Truett-McConnell volunteers have found in their participation is that these children are hungry for God’s Word and they need discipleship. Last year they studied through the book of Genesis, and this year they plan to study through the book of Exodus.

Campbell explained how she strives to fulfill her own personal calling through the ministry on a weekly basis: “The Lord is calling me to missions with kids, and I realized that missions is not [just] overseas, it’s right where you are right now – in White County.”

Through this program, TMC students have helped meet needs in the community, and Campbell shared how they have many goals for the future: “My goal would have to be [that] I want volunteers to come, I want more children to come, and I want to one day see [that] God is really using us to be a part of their lives.” And not only that, but Campbell longs for the program to meet the needs of the entire community so they can one day “go to the next community and make a difference.”

For more info about the Foothills ministry, or to learn how to partner with the ministry team, contact Keith Wade at


Blake is a Junior Psychology and Missions Major and freelance writer at TMC.

Photo/Blake Bramblett

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