This month we are excited to welcome a brand-new partnership to our network! Say hello to the Emerson-Gridley Partnership. Run by AJ Noyes at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie, Pennsylvania, they are currently focusing on donating supplies, supporting teachers and classrooms, and one-on-one tutoring. We are thrilled to share a bit about them here, and you can click here to read even more of their “origin story” on the blog for the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.
AOC: What motivated your congregation to launch your partnership?
AJN: The Cathedral of St. Paul has made a concerted effort in the past few years to learn about our neighbors. We have taken an active role in local neighborhood organizations, participated in the Neighborhood Night Out, hosted city planning meetings, hosted the Outreach dinners, and we continue to house a busy weekly Food Pantry. We’ve taken steps not only to become more aware of what’s going on in our small part of the world, but also to partner with those working to make it better. In this spirit, it seemed only fitting to contact our neighborhood city school, Emerson-Gridley Elementary.
AOC: What needs are you meeting in your partner school?
AJN: Over the summer we gathered crayons, flash cards and donated toward the purchase of 125 red polo shirts. The response was tremendous. Our Cathedral folks were eager to support this new partnership, and before long the floor of my office was filled with boxes of school supplies. After service one Sunday late in August, we packed 125 gifts bags with the supplies and a shirt, as well as a brief note of encouragement for each child.
In early October, we were able to send funds to provide school buses to take children from Emerson-Gridley to a concert by the Erie Philharmonic on November 4 at Warner Theater. The concert is entitled “Musicalympics” and focuses on the various connections between sports and music. Emerson-Gridley will receive a curriculum from the Erie Phil ahead of time; complete with lesson plans, games, and audio CD and more. Field trips such as this are an expensive undertaking for our schools as buses usually cost about $200 per trip. What a joy that the Cathedral is able to provide this opportunity for fun and learning through music.
And in process is one of the most important parts of our new partnership – readers and tutors to work with the children at Emerson-Gridley. The Cathedral has 5 members who will wish to help with children on a regular basis. Although it has been a lengthy process, I am finally getting all the necessary clearances taken care of for our volunteers, and hopefully we’ll be in the classroom before the end of the year. An invaluable resource in this new outreach has been the Partnership for Erie’s Public Schools. PEPS is a nonprofit organization working to strengthen Erie’s Public Schools by providing financial and community support in five areas: Arts, Academics, Athletics, Assistance and Advocacy.
AOC: What is your partnership’s biggest on-going challenge?
AJN: At this early stage, our biggest challenge has been obtaining all the state clearances required for our volunteers.
AOC: What positive impact have you seen in both your congregation and your partner school so far?
AJN: The members and friends of the Cathedral have made it clear how important this partnership is to our church and community. They have stepped up and given generously of their time and resources in support of the school. We look forward to building a strong relationship with the school, the district, the city and with the students we are helping.