Light Rider Ministries is a local organization working to positively change the lives of Upland’s youth through the RedBarn.
Mike Manganello, co-founder of Light Rider Ministries, said the RedBarn serves as a before and after school program for children that live in Upland. The school buses pick up and drop off at the RedBarn location, which provides food and a safe environment to junior high and high school students.
The RedBarn is open from 7–7:45 a.m. and 3–5 p.m. every day that Eastbrook Community School is in session. Manganello stated that they now have anywhere from 50 to 80 students attending every day.
RedBarn Director Troy Shockey shared that many people in Grant County struggle with high-risk behaviors such as smoking, obesity and substance abuse. This is further complicated by the fact that the county has some of the worst healthcare in the state.
Most of these children are living lives marked by poverty, injustice and inattention to spirituality, but the RedBarn is working to bring the light of Jesus into these rough situations.
“One minute with these kids and some positive attention could be the only positivity they see all day,” Shockey said. “We are trying to correct the trajectory of their life.”
Currently, the RedBarn has about one or two volunteers a day from Taylor University, but their goal is to increase that to eight to 10 volunteers. The more volunteers they have, the bigger impact they can make.
Senior Makenna Holz is currently beginning her fifth semester of volunteer work at RedBarn. She spends two hours a week ministering to the children in their programs — helping with homework, playing nine-square and simply having conversations. Her favorite part about volunteering at the RedBarn is getting to know the kids as she loves being a part of their lives.
“If you volunteer, that is one more positive role model that these kids can get to know,” Holz said. “You can help them learn something outside of what they have grown up seeing. It is also beneficial to you because you learn new things and about a different life that people live in our own communities because a lot of times at Taylor we see Taylor people and we don’t see the brokenness of Grant County, which is one of the poorest counties in Indiana.”
You can change the lives of children in Grant County by serving at the RedBarn and by praying for the ministry. This is a great opportunity for individuals, roommates or even entire dorm floors to make a difference in our community. For more information and to get involved visit www.lightrider.org/the-redbarn.