Great program for kids at Riverlands Christian Center

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 13, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

Went to a pretty neat summer camp program this past week, as I stopped by Riverlands Christian Center in Reserve.

Pastor Steven Perrilloux affiliated his church with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) three years ago, and qualified Riverlands Christian to be one of the churches to host one of their summer camp programs each year.

The Children’s Defense Fund is a private, non-profit organization that is supported with corporate grants and individual donations. It was formed in 1973 as a way to help young children get a better start in life.

At the summer camps for these kids, age kindergarten to eighth, the children are given a whole host of fun lessons that follow the mission statement of CDF that aims at giving every child “A Healthy Start, A Head Start, A Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start.”

Pastor Farrow Freeman heads up the program at the church and was telling me about what a great opportunity it is for them to get to teach the kids so much that helps them get on the right track in life. It covers everything from hearing local law enforcement come in and give them an educational lesson about the danger of drugs, to special lessons about how important it is to get along with other children of all races.

At Riverlands, the kids begin each day with breakfast, then a group session called “Harambee” that includes singing and clapping. Pastor Farrow explained to me that Harambee is an African word that means “let’s all pull together.” The morning also includes a motivational CD made by Quincy Jones that gets the children inspired for the day.

CDF encourages an investment of time with children of today so that they don’t get into trouble, they don’t drop out of school, or suffer family breakdowns.

But Pastor Farrow was telling me about the huge emphasis in the program to help the kids read. Many of the lessons in the six week summer program involve having the kids learn to read, or has them reading a wide variety of material to stimulate their minds, and just as importantly, improve their reading skills.

I don’t pretend to know the exact statistics, but I know I have heard over and over that good reading skills for children translate into many other strong performances in school, throughout many other subjects.

One thing I could tell when I stopped by on Wednesday was that Pastor Farrow was one young man who was really fired up about being involved with the program. I could tell he wasn’t just involved in another summer program for kids, but this is something that truly must be showing results.

The Children’s Defense Fund is a highly-respected program nationally, so much so that the annual American Idol Gives Back fundraiser, which is part of the top-rated show each season, has selected the CDF as one of its recipients of their funds raised.

And Reese Witherspoon is also part of CDF, and served as one of their key spokespersons this past year.

Pastor Perrilloux is well-known in his own right for his singing ability, which has led to him releasing CD’s, as well as books that he has written, but the program at the church this summer shows how much the Riverlands Christian Center is trying to give back in its own community.

You could tell by seeing the enthusiasm of the kids at the program, and it’s something that clearly must be having great results to help these children as they grow up and head out in life.

Remember my good buddy Scott Boudreaux?

Scott was the former CEO at River Parishes Hospital who left the area about a year ago when he accepted a similar position with Ochsner on the North Shore.

Scott lives in Mandeville, but he and I have remained good friends, staying in touch via e-mail and an occasional round of golf together.

This past weekend my wife and I got to see Scott and his lovely wife Joni, as Scott began to follow in my footsteps by watching the first of his three daughters get married.

Lindsay, his oldest, got married at the Abita Quail Farm in Abita Springs, and I know for Scott it was not an easy event to make it through since he has always been very close with his three daughters.

Of course, I was wondering if those tears I saw running down Scott’s face had more to do with what I’m sure was a huge bill for the extra fancy wedding Lindsay had, or were they true tears of sadness as his first-born headed off to life on her own with new husband Nick.

Either way, the wife and I got to enjoy a wonderful wedding with a huge crowd this past Saturday night, and it was good seeing my buddy Scott and his wife again.

Lindsay….now Lindsay Walter after marrying Nick….will be graduating next year from Southeastern Louisiana University with a degree in general studies, while Nick is in management with La Madeline.

For those of you wondering, Scott is still the same big-time joker he always was, which says a lot for a guy who just had to write out a pretty big check just to throw a huge party for his daughter.

Joking aside, congratulations to the new couple.

Children’s Logic: “Give me a sentence about a public servant,” said a teacher.

The small boy wrote: “The fireman came down the ladder pregnant.”

The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. “Don’t you know what pregnant means?” she asked.

“Sure,” said the young boy confidently. “It means carrying a child.”

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at