UpGrade, in my eyes, is like youth group but for middle school kids. They, more than anyone, need a place to go where they can feel comfortable and safe.

UpGrade at Zion

At Zion Lutheran Church, in Buffalo, Minnesota, like many churches, there are programs for those young elementary students like Vacation Bible School and Sunday School and for High School Students there are Mission Trips and weekly Youth Group. What about those always forgotten Middle School students? Often the middle school aged students are all but forgotten, and we all know very well how hard the transition is during middle school. The kids need someone during this period more than ever and who better to jump into these kids lives than Holly Husom and Tammy Zumbusch.

Holly Husom, previously the head of Children’s Ministry at Zion, and currently a teacher at St. Francis, and Tammy Zumbusch, busy stay at home mom of five and former accountant, both have plenty of experience with not only raising their own children, but serving and caring for so many other kids in groups like UpGrade.

UpGrade, in my eyes, is like youth group but for middle school kids. They, more than anyone, need a place to go where they can feel comfortable and safe. UpGrade provides exactly that for them. A place they can go and we can talk about things that they need to talk about and maybe don’t get to at home or they can talk about it with other kids who feel the same. Tammy

Not many churches, if any at all have something for middle school students like UpGrade and it wasn’t an idea that they got from another church.

“We got the idea from you. You and the rest of our confirmation boys.” explained Holly. Myself, along with 6 other gentlemen were part of the the first confirmation small group they led together. “We knew and saw how hard the transformation was for you boys and we knew that, if this is what it was like for all kids, then we had to do something.”

Like most groups and organizations, Holly And Tammy have a plan set for Upgrade and the future of the group.

We have a 4 year plan, Year one we wanted to get about 30 kids and, well, we ended up with 60-100 every meeting. For our second year we want to maintain the number and start to reach out by adding in some serving projects. In our third year we wanted to start creating our parent curriculum and start showing parents how to read their kids emotions. Finally, in our fourth year, we would like to hand off the program and begin focusing in on teaching the parents directly and even talking with school administrators. Holly and Tammy

There has to be a reason for someone to have the will to do what Holly and Tammy took upon themselves to do.

We decided to do it because of the void we thought needed to be filled in these kids. 1 Timothy 4:12 states “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech,in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” and I think that verse alone sums up why we decided to bring up this program. Tammy

They expected to have about 30 kids to begin with, but right off the bat they had over 60 kids, so how do they plan a curriculum for all of them that is interesting for the kids but also teaches them important lessons?

We meet together for probably 3 hours to figure out what we are going to talk about but sometimes it will take us 7 hours, not because we get off task but because we end up talking about the kids and what we need to cover.” Holly explained. “None of the curriculum is taken from other places, all of it is thought of by us because we want to talk about subjects that are relevant in the kids lives. Tammy

Middle school students are all but lost in a transition in their life that is maybe the most difficult. Holly and Tammy do more than most people would even ever consider doing by providing UpGrade.