Chuck Slick isn’t your typical 82-year-old great grandfather. A widower since his wife Mickey passed in 2008, the Bedford, PA, resident uses his time to invest in the futures of vulnerable kids who live on the other side of the world. Chuck does this by both volunteering as a teacher at the Fish Hoek, South Africa, Dream Centre after-school program and by providing a scholarship for a Dream Centre child.
Chuck first met some met ER staff during a trip to Ecuador, but it was during a vision trip to South Africa in 2009 when he was struck with compassion for the Dream Centre children. His desire to help the kids turned into more trips where he has served as a volunteer, helping kids with their homework and encouraging them through love and engagement.
“One thing I appreciate about the Dream Centre experience is the children recognize someone loves and cares about them beyond their immediate circumstances,” Chuck said. “They are surrounded by Godly love and affection at the Dream Centre. It affords children an opportunity to learn there is more to life than the discouraging surroundings to which they are subjected.”
Asked what he enjoys most about volunteering at the Dream Centre, Chuck says, “The children! I enjoy watching them arrive, their smiles, feeling their hugs, helping them with their homework, loving on them and praying for them. It’s a blessing to pray for and be concerned for them from a distance, but it’s a ‘little bit of heaven’ to be in their presence.
“I’ve enjoyed several special moments with the kids. One memorable moment took place the day before I left South Africa for home. Uncle Ron (Ron Townsend, Dream Centre co-director) had us gather for the traditional ‘cupcake’ send-off. Several children expressed their goodbyes and Uncle Ron prayed for me.
“Then came the special moment. Manie* stayed and waited until the other children pulled away. He then put his arms around my neck, hugged me hard and said, ‘Don’t leave. I love you. When are you coming back?’ I had only helped him with his homework a few times. I hadn’t realized I had made such a big impression.”
Chuck said he first became aware of the need for scholarships for children through a Facebook post and decided to invest in their futures.
“A scholarship is an investment; a concern for the life of a child created by our God, who through no fault of their own lives in poverty. It’s not a guilt investment; it’s a decision to give a child better life. I can’t make a difference in every child’s life, but I can make a difference in some lives.”
Like other staff and volunteers involved in the Dream Centre, Chuck sees bright futures for the children.
“I’m encouraged by what I see of the physical improvement to the Dream Centre facilities. It emphasizes ER’s concern to develop positive attitudes in the children. I pray to see the children grow into productive individuals with a love for Christ. It may be improbable that all of them will succeed economically, but it’s not impossible for all of them to come to know Christ.”
“I believe the Lord can and will use anyone of any age if they are capable and willing to serve. They may not be available to go, but they can pray and/or give to those who do.”
*Named changed for privacy.