Outlook on Outreach: Arts & Enrichment at Wilson Commencement Park

Third Presbyterian Church’s many Outreach ministries support community needs in key areas, such as housing, food, education, transition from incarceration, and activism for justice. While many of these ministries are well known to the congregation because so many members volunteer, several have been flying under the radar. This is the second article in a series to put a spotlight on some of these lesser-known ministries and draw attention to the real breadth of Third Church’s Outreach commitments.

Experiences that create memories, stimulate curiosity, and inspire self-expression should extend beyond the classroom. However, various factors like transportation and financial concerns can prevent these types of experiences from becoming a reality for many children. Third Church’s Arts & Enrichment program brings hands-on educational, artistic, cultural, and family programming to children who might not otherwise have these experiences.

For the past three years, we have partnered with Wilson Commencement Park’s (WCP) Gloria Simmons, who serves as Director of the Children’s Programs. As a parent, grandparent, teacher, and counselor to the community at WCP, Ms. Gloria has a lifelong passion for service to children and those in need. 

Kuumba Consultants, under the guidance of Ms. Delores Radney, supplies BIPOC artists and teachers who incorporate cultural programming and act as role models. 

Summer Sizzle is a summer camp conceived by Arts & Enrichment Director, Melanie Jones. For five weeks, children have full days of programming including outdoor time, reading, math, dance, cultural enrichment, and field trips (at least one trip to Camp Whitman). We partner with Nazareth College Speech, Social Work, and Art Therapy for our programming and staff. Due to the pandemic, camp in 2020 was virtual. This summer, we plan to use a hybrid format with limited attendance and plenty of outdoor time. 

We recently started a new program for young men, with the help of former program assistant, Thomas Cuyler, who is now a graduate student at Nazareth. Brotherhood Connection, is a safe space for young men to discuss issues such as identity and racism. The first session was in April 2021, and we are now planning for the next. 

We are continuously appreciative of Third Church members and friends who have donated holiday gifts, knitted mittens, offered tutoring, juggling lessons, music presentations, food set-up, served as trip chaperones, and more. Thank you for this valuable work!

We always welcome your support, be it a contribution of your time, talent, or financial resources. This summer especially we are hoping to overcome budget cuts from our other funders. You can help keep the mission of family time at Wilson and Summer Sizzle burning bright by contacting Melanie Jones or mailing a check to Third Church with “Arts & Enrichment” in the memo line.