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Community-based organization empowers at-risk students

In the Wellington Park section of Southeast Washington, children are often exposed to things they should never see. "These kids have seen people that they love get killed and they've got to walk by it right there every day. So this is like a safe haven to them," resident Kenzie Robinson told ABC7 News.

Horton's Kids is a place where hungry kids in Anacostia come after school to find food, help with their homework and people who care. Executive Director Robin Berkley explained the focus of the community-based organization that was founded in 1989.

"Our goal is to help empower the 500 kids who live there to graduate from high school, ready for college and career." 12-year-old Saadiyah Jackson feels comforted at Horton's Kids and described it as, "Like my second home."

The Community Resource Center offers a a computer room, clothing for kids in need, and weekend enrichment classes; services paid for by public and private funding. To promote a love of reading, the center also has a library stocked with books that students can take home and keep for themselves.

Jerrod Thompson got involved in Horton's Kids at the age of 7. "We get to go on field trips and stuff like that, get to meet new people, go to different places, tutoring," he shared. Jack Kammerer, an employee with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, helped Jerrod improve in math, then years later moved from tutor to mentor.

"I think he's taken advantage of what Horton's Kids has to offer. Not just me but the programs," he expressed. The 18-year-old high school senior now has an A in math, a 3.4 grade point average and has been offered a college scholarship. Thompson isn't taking credit for that success. "Because of all of the help I've been getting, all of the support, without Horton's Kids, I don't know where I'd be."

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