Malone Center offers kids help, nutrition, growth

  • Some of the drawings that the children work on.
  • Craft table all set up for the day ahead.
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  • Students wait in line before washing their hands.
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  • This colorful leaf is just one of many pictures that hangs on the wall in the gymnasium.
  • Some of the drawings that the children work on.
  • The children eagerly await their nutritious snack from Danny Martin.
  • Crafts are another one of the main activities that the children like to work on in their two hours after school.
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  • Volunteer showing one of her students how to solve a problem.
  • Homework is one of the key aspects when it comes to learning at the Malone Center.
  • One of the students eagerly getting her picture taken.
  • Volunteer showing his strength.
  • Basketball is one of the more popular activities at the Malone Center.
  • This student likes to pretend she is a frog.
  • Volunteer helping two girls with their math homework.

For just over 10 years, the Clyde Malone Community Center has been a way for children all across Lincoln to have a fun and safe place to go after school, and during the summer. The center gives children a place for two hours after school to have fun, do their homework, and have a safe place to be while their parents are at work.

Nate Woods, the associate director of the Malone Center, has been working there since the re-birth in 2003. In the time that he has been there, there have been many changes. One of the most important: nutrition.

In 2013, Danny Martin was brought into the center in so that the kids could have some better snacking options while at the center. Before Martin was hired, there were vending machines throughout the building, and kids would just line up everyday with their quarters to get a soda or a bag of chips.

A standard snack before Martin was on staff may have been cookies or chips. Those are out the window now, but gram crackers are still ok, for now.

“We still have gram crackers once in awhile, those are a good go to, and they’re not the worst in the world,” Martin said. “But yeah, I like doing fresh fruits and veggies, I have fresh fruits every week, fresh veggies a couple times a month.”

Some of the fruit and vegetables that the kids eat during their snack are actually grown in the new garden that was developed in the spring. Martin wanted a way for the kids to enjoy eating healthier, and said the kids really gravitated when they were able to grow the food on their own.

When the kids are having a good time is when the Malone Center is at its peak. There is a lot of time dedicated to homework and educational functions in the time that the kids are there, but making sure that they are having fun is one of the top priorities.

Kieran Kissler, one of the coordinators for the center, said that as much as she helps the kids, the kids help her just the same.

“Knowing that how frustrating the planning or tedious the planning part of it can be, the kids always make it interesting,” Kissler said. “They make it fun.”

One of the perks of the center is that kids come from all types of backgrounds. This is especially fun for Paulo Oliveria, an international student at UNL from Brazil. Oliveria has seen first hand American children versus Brazilian children, and sees a big difference in how they act.

“Here, the kids are very happy with each other,” Oliveria said. “I have done volunteering in Brazil, and it is very different because volunteering in Brazil, it’s with the poor children, but here I can talk more with the kids.”
At the end of the day, the goal of the center is so much more than eating healthy or playing dodge ball, but to make sure the kids are bettering themselves. They may be young, but as Woods described it, the Center is a cornerstone so that the kids can be well equipped to move further in life.

“The main goal is to give every an opportunity to reach their full potential,” Woods said. “So our main function would be to make sure that kids come through our program eventually graduate.”

Listen to all 4 interviews in their entirety here.

For director, Malone Center’s growth is personal

Nate Woods has been helping kids at work, and in his personal life for over 10 years. After fostering two children, Woods adopted them just two years later, in addition to the two kids he already have. With over 50 kids going through his home through the years, Woods makes an impact with just about anyone he comes in contact with. Here is a look through the years on major events that he has contributed too.

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