As we celebrate 40 years of serving children of the innercity, we’d like to honor Katy Reel, an instrumental figure in the success of Neighborhood Ministries who served God with all of her heart
By Lenny Reel
Katy’s Kids Director
When most people think of Neighborhood Ministries they usually think of Kids’ Club and Katy’s Kids. Though most are familiar with the name of our preschool program, not many know who the “Katy” in Katy’s Kids really is.
I’m still a Kids Club teacher after all these years. It remains one of my favorite roles at Neighborhood; sitting with the Scripture and hearing them with and for children … children born into poverty, children with only one parent, children of immigrants, children who have had a trauma-filled year and half.
My sister, Katy Reel, was a teacher who joined Neighborhood Ministries in pursuit of a dream: to serve God with all her heart by engaging with the children and families in our community. Katy wanted her life to have meaning and make an impact. She did just that. Katy, along with Ericka Martinez, helped launch the first Head Start program for preschool on Neighborhood’s campus in 2003. All who knew her, especially the children she cared for and served, loved her.
Sadly, in 2005 Katy was diagnosed with brain cancer. She was determined not to let her illness get in the way of the work she loved. I moved to Phoenix to be with my sister and help her fulfill her calling. Every day I drove her to campus where I volunteered in her classroom. In 2006, at the age of 26, Katy passed away.
The preschool was named Katy’s Kids in her honor. I stayed in Phoenix and continued to volunteer in the classroom where I fell in love with the children and found my calling. I started a two-year internship as an assistant in the classroom. After my internship, I went back to school for early childhood education and became the lead teacher. Today, I am the director of Katy’s Kids. Katy would be amazed and proud to see what the preschool has blossomed into.
The children in our neighborhood have the privilege of learning from the best. Katy’s Kids has been rated a 4-star Quality First site by First Thing First, Arizona’s early childhood agency. Our classrooms are located in the amazingly renovated Silo building. We currently have two classrooms and serve 30 children.
I know Katy is happy.
Thank you for the support that keeps Katy’s dream alive here at Neighborhood Ministries. Your investment in these little ones is changing each of their futures as well as our own!
I love you, sister!