Flint native Susaye Brewer knows firsthand the importance of finding love and community in your own life.
“I am a product of foster care and was a ward of the state as a kid,” Brewer said. “Out of that, I learned the need for confidence, self-care, and compassion. It is important to have friends and build relationships in a positive manner.”
That philosophy led Brewer to found Oatmeal Club in 2014. The organization’s mission is to, “encourage, celebrate, and nurture the virtue of girls and boys to be an instrument of love in their own life, in the life of their “sisters” and “brothers” and in their communities."
The Oatmeal Club, which has about 30 members ranging in age from 8- to 18-years-old, meets every third Thursday, Friday, and Saturday each month. Each day has different themes. Treasure Thursdays typically include a guest speaker sharing experiences about self-love and self-care. Fun Fridays are kids’ choice and include activities like skating, ice cream socials, playing games with seniors, or other activities that the kids in the group select. Saturdays are a Service Day, where the group goes out into the community to do service projects.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the group’s meetings have changed to a virtual format.
“We just did a project where we were able to do some meditation through Zoom with some senior citizens in the community,” Brewer said. “Something as simple as socializing and building a relationship, it gives kids a sense that they’re not alone.”
Although the pandemic has restricted some of their activities, they are still able to safely get outside and do service projects. In the past, the Oatmeal Club has volunteered for gardening activities at Edible Flint’s Educational Farm, worked in soup kitchens, and participated in programs with the Broome Empowerment Village. The group has also adopted Martin Park in Flint. With the help of a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Oatmeal Club members are working on installing a sensory garden and trail in the park.
“The projects get the kids engaged in the community and give them a sense of pride,” Brewer said.
The club accepts members from all over Genesee County, but Brewer said that most come from Flint’s northside. There is a $25 membership fee to help support programs, but Brewer said that no children are turned away if they can’t afford the cost.
“We want to be able to nurture and encourage youth,” Brewer said. “We just want to keep kids engaged and give them activities.”
Those interested in learning more about the Oatmeal Club can visit the website, email [email protected], or call (810) 336-9897.