"Kids Night Out" is for parents, too

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 6/21/00.

Ryan Gale, 11, can't wait for the next Kids Night Out at Crystal Hills Assembly. He likes the meals, the crafts, and the activities. "I want to go back because I had fun," he said.

"He really had a good time," added his mother, Roxanne. "He came home and ...he was ready to go back the next night."

Kids Night Out started at Crystal Hills Assembly two months ago. It is held on the last Friday of the month, except on holiday weekends, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Infants to fifth graders may be brought to the church, and for $2 apiece volunteers will feed them, supervise them as they play outside, read stories to them, and help them make a craft.

"We advertise it as Kids Night Out," explained organizer Rhonda Fangmeier, "but it's more for the parents because we want the parents to have a night out."

The idea is to entertain the kids in a safe environment, while allowing parents to spend time together. Dating your spouse is important, Fangmeier stressed. "Your spouse is supposed to be more important than your kids, but if you don't ever spend time with them it's hard to accomplish that," she explained.

The program also allows single parents an opportunity for free time.

Rhonda and her husband, Jim, were exposed to the idea of a Kids Night Out when they lived in California. "It was really helpful to us because we didn't have any family there," Rhonda said.

The Fangmeiers raised the idea and their church embraced it. "It was such an important thing for us," she explained. "I just wanted to do it for others." As an evangelistic church, she added, it's important to be active in the community.

Kids Night Out has been held twice for the Crystal Hills congregation. In April, they had 31 kids and 12 workers and in May they had 24 kids and 13 workers. Volunteers include the church's youth group, various parents, and grandparents. Now it will be available to the entire community. Fangmeier said they needed some practice to get the logistics ready before inviting the entire community.

The next Kids Night Out will be Friday, June 30.

The cost, at $2 per child, is less than a babysitter, and it eliminates the need to arrange a babysitter. "It's handy," said Theresa Hacklander, who has three kids with her husband, Kyle. "You can't beat the price. They keep them entertained, and you know tBD╡B▌:╡uамA :╓ ╫ mjj online сЫ,,,░С         └  └          А ■  ўЁ  А ° Ё№@р?      └asure chest before leaving.

Parents need to pick up their kids by 9 p.m. so the volunteers can get home at a reasonable time.

Running the event takes considerable volunteer assistance. Fangmeier, who was nervous about finding enough help in the beginning, has been pleased by the response of volunteers. The Crystal Hills youth group and the Jeff and Ann Miller family, in particular, have been helpful in volunteering.

Some parents are taking turns helping out, too. For instance, the Hacklanders went out to eat in April and May, but plan to help at the church in June.

Volunteers from the community are welcome as well, but will need to complete a background check before helping. Volunteers need to apply and have references.

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