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    Author: Signe Damdar, Natalie Benevento

    Category: The Pulse - 2017.20 Issue 20, The Pulse - 2017.21 Issue 21

    "Parents' Night Out" in Peril after 17 Years

    Parents’ Night Out has blessed so many families throughout its 17 years. Please pray about serving in this ministry because there is great need for volunteers or it will NOT be able to continue next year. A committed team of sixteen (16) adults and seven (7) teens are needed to make it run.  It’s a once a month commitment: only 6:00-9:00 PM on one Friday per month (for 8 months of the year). There are many ways to volunteer, from registration to cooking the meal, from setting the table to setting up a movie, and of course playing with kids or holding babies. If you are interested in learning more and partnering with others to participate in this awesome Kingdom Life experience, please contact Pastor Mike.

    Recently, Signe Damdar was privileged to interview one of the founding members of Parents’ Night Out about one of her absolute favorite ministries at WEFC. Natalie Benevento shares insight about how our church ministers to marriage and families in a unique and critical way through this ministry.

    Q1: The concept of Parents’ Night Out is so unique. How did it get started?
    A1: Parents Night Out (formerly called “Love our Community”) began when a group of individuals wanted to reach outside of the walls of the church and minister to the community, specifically children and their families. We began by trying multiple events, including a bike rodeo. Nothing really took off. At some point the group came up with the idea for Parents Night Out (PNO). We decided to give it a try and the rest is history.

    Q2: As a young person who did not have kids, what did you notice about the response to Parents’ Night Out by parents?
    A2: I loved working with children, so this was natural for me. What stood out to me the most was the number of parents who almost never had a night out without their kids. The second big thing was hearing how the parents felt their kids were "safe" with us.

    Q3: What do you think the kids get out of Parents’ Night Out?
    A3: The kids loved it. I had kids come running to my room at 6:00 pm screaming, "I'm back." They loved the Dino Nuggets and Mac and Cheese, all the active group games we played, the story and video time, and SNACK! Most of all, they got to hear about God each and every time.

    Q4. How long have you been attending WEFC? Who were the founding members?
    A4: I have been at WEFC for at least 19 years. PNO began about 17 years ago. I was a founding member and involved for about 12 years. The others were: Dave & Lynne Gough, Gregg & Carla Miller, Jim & Deb Marquardt, Susan Johnson, Skip Hardy, and Anna Pappalardo.

    Q5. What can you say about the growth of this ministry over the years?
    A5: It’s amazing how PNO grew. We started with only about 35 kids. Each week the number went up. We had 3 age groups. 0-2, 3-5, and 6-12. Over the years, we ultimately had to make more groups in order to make it manageable for the leaders and safe for the kids. I remember some nights with well over a 100 kids. There was a lot of excitement, smiles, and noise that came with that many kids, but it energized us. 

    Q6: Why do you think Parents’ Night Out is an important ministry?
    A6: This may be one of our most important ministries. Think about what it has accomplished over the years. Busy parents who barely connect on a daily basis are provided an opportunity to preserve their marriage. Children are ministered to in a way that touches them physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Families, who might have never come to WEFC, experience the love of Christ because another couple invited them to go out for the evening and enjoy free, safe child-care. Finally, those who serve have the opportunity to see what God can do when His people have a willing heart. I have no doubt that the seeds that have been sown through PNO over the years continue to reap an immense harvest.

    Q7: How could you encourage someone to sign up to volunteer? I know that there is a shortage of volunteers now.
    A7: My years of serving with PNO were as rewarding for me as they were for the kids and families. I had a blast each month. This ministry meets a real need for young families. Parents have the opportunity to work on preserving and energizing their marriage. Children have the opportunity to make new friends, have a blast, and learn about God. To me, that is a winning combination! Many of the kids I cared for are now teenagers and young adults. It truly brings me joy to realize that in some small way God allowed me to have an impact on their life for all those years. For me, serving at PNO truly demonstrated what Kingdom Life looks like.