The Edmond Sun

March 19, 2013

From poverty to a real estate portfolio

Whiz Kids plans Seeds of Hope banquet


Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — Steven Van Cauwenburgh was never supposed to be a successful real estate investor.

A New Jersey native, Van Cauwenburgh had no greater dream as a child than to one day live in a house. He moved from apartment to apartment throughout his childhood, even across the country in order for his single mother to find work. His brother was placed in a foster home at 9 years old.

With a childhood full of strife, most people would have given up on success. But no one gave up on him.

That’s why Van Cauwenburgh volunteers today with Whiz Kids, a faith-based, one-on-one volunteer tutoring/mentoring program that partners with schools and churches in the Oklahoma City area. More than 800 children are served by 64 churches in three school districts.

“I found out about it through my church, Life Church in Edmond,” Van Cauwenburgh said. “One day, they talked about Whiz Kids, and I was motivated to help. I grew up 6 years behind in reading.”

Van Cauwenburgh has been tutoring with Whiz Kids for several months, and says he can see a difference in the child he tutors and in himself.

“Making an impact in a child’s life is life changing for yourself,” Van Cauwenburgh said. “Someone without resources and even without love can really be affected by someone consistently coming every Thursday and loving on them. It gives them hope and a purpose.”

Whiz Kids is having its annual Seeds of Hope charity and tutor appreciation banquet from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Cox Convention Center to show their gratitude to volunteers like Van Cauwenburgh.

Whiz Kids and Whiz Kids tutors meet in area churches once a week for two hours. The tutors and students work on phonics and reading comprehension. Many come from Edmond, and are supported by these churches locally: First Christian Church, First United Methodist, Life Church, First Presbyterian and Southern Hills Christian.

With parental or guardian’s permission, students have the option to attend Club Time during the two hours. Club Time is a breakout session from regular tutoring in which kids play a game or listen to a story together, which encourages character traits such as honesty and diligence.

FOR MORE information on Whiz Kids and the Seeds of Hope banquet, visit whizkidsok.org or contact communications manager Sarah Skinner at 602-2815.