KC woman’s ‘Hope Hangout’ offers teens a safe place to have fun and grow

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Thanks to one woman, something really special is happening inside a southeast KC church, and it's having a big impact on local teenagers.

At the end of another school day, 16-year-old Shurniqua Miles and her friends had a lot of fun in a small section of Bethel Family Worship Center.

"I love it. Like the first time I walked up in here, it was magic. I swear," Shurniqua said.

From playing ping pong and Uno, to eating sandwiches, she and other Ruskin High School students enjoy every minute.

"I really love it here," 18-year-old Treyon Brown said.

It's the students' special space, and it's called "Hope Hangout," located near Ruskin Way and Blue Ridge Boulevard.

Shurniqua admits when she first came here, she was extremely shy.

However, now the teen's eyes sparkle when she talks about the hangout and the woman behind it that give her hope.

"Mama Marva treats us like royalty. I love her a lot, and we have a special bond. She has helped me just blossom into a beautiful, young lady," Shurniqua said.

"It's really, really helped me in a lot of ways," said Treyon, an aspiring veterinarian. "Mama Marva mentors us, talks to us, teaches us how to love ourselves, respect others and follow our dreams. Hope Hangout is good place. It's helped keep me out of trouble."

The teens praise Hope Hangout Director Marva Moses with changing their lives.

Four years ago, this southeast Kansas City neighborhood where Moses grew up was a hot spot for juvenile crime.

So she turned the fellowship hall and an empty room at her church, Bethel Family Worship Center, into a positive, safe place where teens have become friends and learned the importance of respect, love and dreaming big.

Moses estimates she's mentored and inspired about 300 kids ever since she started her unique hangout.

"My secret is love. I love these kids like crazy. What would I do all day if not to take care of these jokers? I'm a pretty lucky girl. Hope Hangout can never ever go away. Next year I plan to get my own building with a library, a rec center and a lot more, all for my kids," Moses said.

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