NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. (WHTM) — Medard’s House, a Cumberland county nonprofit, is expanding its after-school services. The organization is building out its campus with several new projects for the kids they serve.
Andre Young is helping with one of those projects, helping grow and pick fresh produce from the garden.
“Nice peppers, they’re looking like they’re ready to go,” he said. “Might be dinner tonight.”
Young is not just cooking for himself.
“I’ll sneak that in a stir-fry, they’ll never know,” he said.
He is the chef for Medard’s House, a nonprofit providing after school services to middle and high school students. However, this year he is taking on another role, managing the new garden-to-table program.
Kids will help plant, water and harvest the garden, then Young will teach them how to turn that fresh produce into a nutritious meal.
“Many of them grew up on junk food,” he said. “That’s the way to get them to eat vegetables too. If they made it, prepared it [themselves], they’ve grown it, then they’re more inclined to try it.”
This is one of several new projects on the table for Medard’s House.
“Our biggest dream is this skate park,” executive director Saundra Colello said.
Colello said the need for afterschool services is growing.
“We’ve already started getting like 20 kids right off the bat,” she said. Usually, they see only 10 or so at the beginning of the school year.
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Medard’s House wants to expand what they offer to meet that need.
“You have to provide for them the things that will help them grow,” Colello said.
Another project Colello said will be done this year is a new rock climbing wall in the gym.
“We’re just waiting for the holds and the other things to come in,” she said.
For other projects — like the skate park — Colello said they need more funding. The organization is working with the New Cumberland borough and asking for donations from the community.
“People that live local, give local can see the local results,” Colello said.
It is a lot of work, but she said kids’ reactions are all worth it.
“One of our mom said to us, ‘My son still won’t take his mask off because he’s afraid, but when he comes here, he takes his mask off, he’s happy, he can’t wait to get here, he’s just a whole different kid,'” Colello said.
For more information or to donate, visit Medard House’s website.