The Rallying Point
The roots of Rise & Shine grew out of a dark chapter in local history. In the face of overt racism as represented by the KKK, a group of concerned citizens initiated an ongoing community dialogue on racial reconciliation. Together, activists both black and white worked to promote social justice and, ultimately, to create a vibrant program that has been empowering children, enriching lives, and strengthening communities since 1996.
In 1988, the Ku Klux Klan requested a permit to march in downtown Brevard. Determined not to fan the flames, a social activist named Fay Walker invited people to gather at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church for an interracial dialogue. Fourteen community members participated. From this modest beginning was born an ongoing group of black and white residents who called themselves “Friends” and who met monthly for the next decade.
In 1992 when the KKK marched again in Brevard, it was this Friends group that initiated a petition opposing the Klan and filled a full page of the Transylvania Times with 1200 signatures of local residents who shared their opinion.
Racial Justice and Reconciliation
In 1993, Pastor Frederick Gordon and leaders from the Methodist Church conducted a multi-week Lenten series entitled “Racism: Everybody’s Problem” at Bethel “A” Baptist Church. During the final session, participants were asked to consider returning to their church/community organizations to work against racism. Many committed to this end.
That same spring, Fay Walker listened as Pastor Gordon asked repeatedly, “Fay, I want you to help me do something for children in the neighborhood around Bethel “A”. In the spring of 1996, the pastor’s request became for her a clarion call: Can we do something for children and address racial justice and reconciliation at the same time?
RISE & SHINE IS BORN
All summer Pastor Gordon, Fay Walker, and a team of parents and residents dreamed, designed, and planned an after school program eventually to be called Rise & Shine. Its signature would be daily one-on-one tutoring. Teams of volunteers were recruited from The American Association of University Women, Bethel “A” Baptist Church, Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist Church, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and St. Philip’s Episcopal Church; later two community-based teams were added to the rotation. Teachers and parents referred students who otherwise might fall through the cracks without special support.
And so it was that in October 1996, with $3000 of United Way funding, the Rise & Shine after school program opened its doors and welcomed its first students.
Our Growth Continues
Under the thoughtful guidance of the program's parent organization, Neighbors In Ministry, its board of directors, the talented R&S staff, dedicated parents, and a large and enthusiastic corps of volunteers, Rise & Shine has grown significantly from its humble beginnings. As the impact of Rise & Shine was felt in those early years, the group's leaders soon recognized the potential for the program to expand its positive influence.
Today we serve dozens of students each year, from kindergarten through high school. Scholars rotate through three broad areas, including one-on-one homework coaching with a volunteer tutor, a period of guided reading led by volunteer reading specialists, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) enrichment led by Rise & Shine staff.