Making a Difference | Medard's House is a home away from home
A youth community center in Cumberland County is giving young people safety and support outside of their home.
Medard's House is named after a teenager who drowned in a tragic accident on the Susquehanna River four years ago.
And this Fall, the center is expanding with new additions and partnerships.
I caught up with some teenagers playing air hockey, pool and ping pong.
When you're a teenager, you can sometimes feel like a ping pong ball being knocked around by life's circumstances - with no control over your direction.
The volunteers at Medard's House - a faith-based youth community center in New Cumberland make it part of their mission to give young people some guidance - academic, spiritual and emotional guidance.
Blaze Herman, 17 years old "It's actually a really fun place to go after school, make an impact on other kids including myself, so it's like a safe place guess you could say."
And without Medard's House many of these teens would be out on the streets. Not necessarily doing anything illegal, but being unproductive.
That's one of the concerns Saundra Colello, founder of Medard's House had when she came up with the idea for the youth center.
She started an after school youth group back in 2012, but got the non-profit status right around the same time Medard Kowalski junior drowned.
Saundra Colello, Medard's House "Everybody did care about him and love him. He was one of those kids it didn't matter who you were, he recognized you and he asked you how you were doing?"
Four years later, Medard is still helping to make a difference with the youth center that bears his name.
14-year old KC Robinson says the volunteers have helped him improve his grades and make friends.
KC Robinson, "Some people are really scared to make friends but it helps them out cause they get to see new people and helps them learn how to communicate with other people."
Brian Nilsen, 17 years old "I recommend it to people who maybe don't necessarily know about it and may be struggling with stuff at home because the volunteers here actually care for your kids and they want to make an impact in their lives.”
Colello says as the volunteer “house parents”, they’re the initial contact. "They come here, they hang out, they have a meal, a home-cooked meal, yeah. The ladies check to see if they need any homework help. We do a little bit of bible study. we have speakers or character-building studies."
Colello has brought in a few community partners to Medard's House to help, including the “3-Star Foundation”, “Underground Skate Park” and “Center For Champions”, who in four years has already seen some amazing results.
Jeff Bruce, Executive Director of Center For Champions of PA says they used to have fights pretty often. “Not one fight this year! The mentors feel like they're really connecting with the kids whereas before we had some volunteers who weren't sure what they should do day to day so that's the big thing right now - full engagement and almost 100% attendance from the kids which is pretty unbelievable!"
All of this is not only helping these kids, but Medard Kowalski, Junior's own family.
Mitchell Kowalski, Medard's brother says,"It's just family. Like everyone just loves each other and they respect each other and have fun. That's what this is."
So how can you help?
Medard's House currently has a fundraising campaign going on to buy 2 vans. Right now kids are dropped off or walk to the center. Colello is hoping to purchase 2 vans to transport kids from school and home.
And the “Center For Champions” has a volunteer recruitment campaign right now called "40 by Fall".