It will jut out from behind the rear exit of the Mooncrest Community Center—a 35-by-22-foot building addition that will house overflowing art classes and health consultations.
The Moon Township Board of Supervisors earlier this month approved the project, hiring Beaver Falls-based C.W. Smith Contracting Inc. to build an $82,600 addition on the Mooncrest Community Center. The building on Hemlock Drive provides after-school programs for the neighborhood’s children.
Mooncrest Center Director Sister Rene Procopio said the added space will enable the center to include more children in its after-school programs. Currently 35 elementary school students attend the center’s daily after-school activities while 13 remain on a waiting list.
“We use every single nook of this building,” said Procopio as she walks into the building's main room, bustling with elementary students as an art class takes place.
She said the addition will enable the center to expand its services to include Mooncrest neighborhood adults. Procopio said she envisions an open space off the building’s main room where students can attend activities and neighbors can gather for the center’s regular pasta dinners.
Enrollment in the center's after-school programs has grown steadily from just a handful of students in 2002, when the Felician Sisters of Coraopolis first began leasing the township-owned building for the program.
“But 35 has always been our maximum number—we can’t accept more than that,” said Procopio. “But we have children on a waiting list right now. And we’d like to start offering health and wellness consultations and exercise classes for adults.”
The center has been awarded $120,000 in grant dollars to fund the project, including a $50,000 grant from the Wisebord Foundation and a $50,000 grant from the Felician Sisters Order.
The center hosts nearly 40 students from 2 to 6 p.m. each weeknight, offering tutoring and hands-on activities. The center is operated solely by volunteers, many of whom are members of the Felician order. Propocio said the center pays for all of its more than $60,000 per-year operating costs with dollars obtained through grants.
Procopio began the grant-writing process two years ago for the project, which will receive no township funding. Work is slated to begin in the coming weeks, with the addition's opening to center's clients planned for spring.
“We give kids a safe, caring atmosphere,” Procopio said. “We do art, music. And the kids are the best promoters. They tell each other about the program. And that’s how it’s grown.”