Marshall Middle School Ministries has one overriding goal: to seal up the cracks of depression that kids can fall into.
Al Holland, a leading member of MMS Ministries, has seen it before and knows all too well that many youth are stepping over those cracks every day like they're walking a tightrope, and wants to make sure someone is there to help if they fall.
"I've seen kids fall through the cracks, kids who don't have friends, that are left out of the circle so to speak, at the bottom of the pile," Holland said. "We're just trying to help them because they get depressed, they get sad, and they get lonely."
MMS Ministries is putting on two free concerts today - one at 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Radiant Life Church to coincide with today's early out, and one at 7 p.m. in the MMS theater. It's a special day long in the making for the group, and these concerts are about more than good music, they're about letting kids know that there are people out there who are ready to take the time to talk to them, guide them and, in general terms, just be there for them.
"We're trying to improve their situation in life," Holland said. "Some of these kids are going down the wrong way and we're trying to offer a solution to that through mentorship. I was talking to a girl about a month ago, a junior in high school who said she's been in trouble all her life and she wants to straighten her life out. She's struggling, she can't get there. She's had depression at night, depression in the afternoon. I told her we will be there for her, to call us anytime and we'll drop what we're doing, have a Coke with her and help her."
Holland, who said MMS Ministries is working with the Marshall Middle School on this youth outreach program, insists putting the program together has nothing to do with this past spring's double suicide involving two Marshall Middle School students. Still, it's that kind of tragedy that groups like MMS Ministries can work to head off.
Holland said many times teens can look happy on the outside, but who's to know how they're really feeling on the inside? They know there are kids who are struggling, whether with peer pressure or bullying, and want to be a source of comfort and positive energy for them to get them on the right path, one free of all those cracks.
"This is a big problem we have, and we have to reach down in the system and take care of that," Holland said. "The school has been very helpful and open and willing to help us do this, because it's their problem, too; they're facing it all the time."
MMS Ministries is accepting to all students, no matter their race or religion, and will work with parents to, as Holland puts it, "promote a whole child."
In our opinion, a city, no matter how big or small, can't have too many groups like this. It might sound clich, but if they can make a difference in the life of just one student, their work will have paid off.