In one corner, a stirring debate focuses on whether or not schools should require metal detectors or uniforms. In another corner there's a back-and-forth discussion on choices in dating relationships. Although the voices heard in the brightly lit church basement resemble those at a dinner party or panel discussion, it is neither. It's something rarer.
"It's a nice place to be," explains Crystal Jamison, 13, as she listens to the group discussing school policies. "Parents and helpers from the church look out for us here."
With a satisfied smile, Jamison takes in the informal groups of young and older women that surround her. In each, youth--ages 12 to 18--express opinions without worrying they will be ignored--or judged. For most, this weekly meeting is their only chance to sit around a table for a home-cooked meal with other people.
"This kind of nurturing doesn't happen enough," says Venice Williams, director of CHOICES, a citywide mentoring program run by the Greater Milwaukee Area Synod's SeedFolks Youth Ministry.
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