by Sunny Layne
WATERLOO (KWWL) - Many of us want to help young people succeed, but it takes energy and dedication to follow through. One man decided to make his dream of helping youth a reality by helping them live their own dreams. Dr. Ken Budke is someone you should know.
After school, you'll find basketball, art projects, music and more at the Salvation Army in Waterloo.
Nearly all of this came from the mind of a music-loving dentist from Cedar Falls.
"If you don't mind, I'll just turn and look at all these faces," Dr. Ken Budke said, facing a wall of pictures. "There's so much potential there."
Dr. Budke heard about a 7-year-old after-school program at the Salvation Army, and wanted to add to it.
"They're very willing to open to new ideas," UNI student volunteer Sarah Johnson said. "They love the one-on-one attention and thrive on it."
With the help of University of Northern Iowa Professor Kathy Oakland, many college students volunteered to help out.
So far, the program has lifted everyone involved.
"It's fun for kids my age to hang out with UNI students," 9th grader Michael Thomas said. "Play basket ball with them, learn about your day at school, just have fun with them."
"Sometimes you bring homework and they help you with it," 3rd grader Dana Scott said.
"How to add decimals into math," 6th grader Megan Horn said.
"Just having them give you a hug makes my day," UNI student Alissa Meskimen said. "Just knowing you can make someone else's day is awesome."
"I think I am getting more out of it," Sarah Johnson said.
"Without these volunteers, these programs wouldn't exist because it would cost too much to staff something like this," Captain Rob Whitney of the Salvation Army said.
"An idea that they could dream, achieve things, that they are precious and important," Dr. Ken Budke said.
Dreaming didn't end with tutoring, art, and music lessons. Budke and his volunteers wanted to have the children work toward a truly spectacular goal.
Along with basketball, these children are forming a choir to sing with nationally award-winning gospel group Trinity 5:7 this August at the Gallagher Bluedorn in Cedar Falls.
"It's been amazing to see their creativity being spawned at such an early age, it is really awesome," UNI student Dante Means said.
"It's my first time on stage and I'm looking up to it," 6th-grader Quinterus Roby said. "Just how to sing and don't be afraid to get on stage and show off."
Leaders of this after-school group hope this concert shows the children just how high you can dream.
"If these kids can start dreaming, we can do some tremendous things," Budke said.
Doctor Budke hopes to refine this after-school program and use it as a template to bring to other facilities across the country.
Reporter: Sunny Layne