Westside Community Center
Sep 1, 2023 | by Ryan Enns
Our Mission is to empower families and youth academically, socially and spiritually, inspiring them to take on leadership roles in their community. Our Vision...We will be a center that not only serves the community, but one that is served by the community. Those who live within the community that the center serves will teach the programs and services offered by the Westside Community Center.
This past summer was an exciting one at the Westside Community Center. Because of the generosity of our donors and volunteers we were able to offer high level professionally run Summer Camps throughout the summer. At our Pottery Camp kids learned how to throw on the wheels and hand build. Each student came away with at least 2 pieces that they built, painted, and fired. We also did tie-dye. Next was our Art Camp. Here students learned and practiced a variety of different art forms such as logo and packaging design, dance, photography, collage, etc. On the Friday of that week students were able to invite family and friends to come to an art show displaying their work that they made over the week. We had a great turnout and it was a huge success! This year’s Soccer Camp was a blast!! Students had the chance to be coached on and to practice soccer skills (passing, dribbling, shooting, etc.) and also scrimmaged a lot. We had a Union player, Nate Harriel, come to speak with the kids as well as two other guest speakers who work with the Union. Every night students heard about a God that loves them very much and were invited into a relationship with Him. At this summer’s STEM Camp kids had the opportunity to interview people with three different STEM careers (veterinarian, security technician at Snapchat, and a bioastronaut). Kids then did STEM activities related to those three fields. They learned how to suture using a banana for practice, extracted DNA out of strawberries and blueberries, created their own apps, made 3D glasses, and did a variety of experiments. Students also enjoyed a trip to Millennium Skate World and learned about the science behind roller skating. We ended the week on Friday with a pool party.
Students also enjoyed pool parties and various hangouts that were set up to continue to build healthy relationships and share the love of Christ. Our Tuesday night Skate, Grill and Chill program was very well attended. Jon Crans and his team cared well for our skate community and the Gospel of Jesus Christ continued to go out. We were able to host our 3rd Annual High School Retreat where students learned about finding joy in Christ. Our Wednesday evening Futsal nights were a blast and we consistently had 15-20 kids coming out each week!
Finally, our STEM Coffee Program continued to teach students how to roast coffee and had the opportunity to provide freshly roasted coffee beans for the coffee at the Global Leadership Summit held at Providence Church.
The main way the ministry is meeting needs:
West Chester, PA is a beautiful town; but within it lie pockets of poverty often masked by the fancy town centers, parks and restaurants. The Westside is in its 11th year of serving over 100 disadvantaged, underserved youth in West Chester. Students served by The Westside are low-income, at-risk youth. The majority of students are minority youth and living in single parent homes. Additionally, many have experienced trauma (transient housing, homelessness, abuse, domestic violence, food insecurity), are English Language Learners, first and second-generation immigrants, and are struggling academically. Over 36% will be the first in their families to graduate high school and 68% will be the first in their families to go to college. As a result, our students lack the motivation and guidance needed to reach their potential. Rising costs of living in our community requires many of our students’ parents to work 2-3 jobs to provide for their family.
Consequently, many of our students are left home alone and unsupervised in the out-of-school time hours and many will not be fed until late in the evening (if at all). Research confirms that the hours of 3-6PM are, "the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex" and that hours spent alone after school are, "lost opportunities to help students grow and develop the skills and competencies to make positive life decisions that can lead to their future success" (After School Alliance). The Westside seeks to prevent these outcomes by providing a safe and supportive environment during the critical out-of-school-time hours and providing a variety of academic supports, nutritional education, leadership development and recreational activities. The Westside is committed to serving the community in this manner because we know that there is a need for positive educational and recreational opportunities to improve the health and well-being of youth and families in West Chester. We want to see the needs of our students met so they stay in school, graduate, and set goals for post-secondary education/employment. Despite being located in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, 27% of West Chester residents live below the poverty line (double the national average of 13.1%). The majority of the youth served by The Westside live within walking distance of The Westside and The Skate Spot. Within 2 blocks of “The Spot” are 2 section 8 housing communities and 4 homeless shelters are within a 5-10 block radius of the park. Our staff and volunteers at the Westside are committed to tackling these issues through our various programs and the relationships we have with youth and families in our community.
How is the ministry sharing the gospel and making disciples:
We present the gospel tangibly through the Bible to students at Girls' Nights, Guys' Nights, and Retreats. Our staff and volunteers also invite students and their families to church, where they have gotten plugged in and even have begun to serve. We provide our students who are ready with leadership opportunities to get involved in leading Girls' Nights and Guys' Nights. A main goal we have is to see our students become volunteers in our organization.
Life changing story in the WCC ministry:
This past year we celebrated our 10th year! We are blessed by what God has done over the past 10 years. With that said, watch the early beginnings of WCC to where it is now!
How you can help:
1. WE NEED ALDI/GIANT GIFT CARDS!! As our After School Program gets started this coming week, please consider donating a gift card to the WCC. These cards help us provide healthy snacks and meals everyday to our students.
2. AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM MEALS – Please consider signing up to provide a dinner once a month to our After School Program Students.
Our staff will reach out to you and match you up with one of our students so that you can be praying for them on an ongoing basis. If you have any questions please contact our Executive Director, Ryan Enns at 484.682.4910 or email at .