Thursday was designated 'Lights On Afterschool Day'
AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS The board of commissioners recently presented Virginia Houser, director of Zion's Lutheran Afterschool program, second from right, with a resolution marking Oct. 14 as "Lights On Afterschool Day" in Carbon County. Presenting the resolution are, from left, Commissioners Charles Getz, William O'Gurek and Wayne Nothstein.
Thursday was officially "Lights On Afterschool Day" in Carbon County.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board signed a resolution to support the Lights On Afterschool program in Weatherly.
Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, read the resolution, which states, "The citizens of Carbon County stand firmly committed to quality afterschool programs and opportunities because they provide safe, challenging, engaging and fun learning experiences to help children develop their social, emotional, physical, cultural and academic skills. Support working families by ensuring their children are safe and productive after the regular school day ends. Build stronger communities by involving our students, parents, business leaders, and adult volunteers in the lives of our young people, thereby promoting positive relationships among children, youth, families and adults. Engage families, schools, and diverse community partners in advancing the welfare of our children.
"The Zion's Lutheran Weatherly Lights On Afterschool program," O'Gurek read, "has provided significant leadership in the area of community involvement in the education and well-being of our youth, grounded in the principle that quality afterschool programs are key to helping our children become successful adults. Lights On Afterschool, a national celebration of afterschool programs during the month of October, promotes the critical importance of quality afterschool programs in the lives of children, their families and their communities."
O'Gurek continued that "more than 28 million children in the United States have parents who work outside the home, and 15.1 million children have no place to go after school."
One problem that many afterschool programs have been facing in recent years is funding cuts. These cuts force some programs that aim to help children to close their doors to the public.
The commissioners then thanked Virginia Houser, director of Zion's Lutheran Afterschool program, for her efforts and presented her with the resolution.
Houser thanked the board for the recognition of the program and explained a bit about what it is all about.
"We are a unique situation," she said. "We are only an afterschool program and are not involved with any preschool or day care center. The kids are wonderful and the staff and community have been great to us."
She noted that the program, located in Zion's Lutheran Church on Third and Fell streets in Weatherly, currently serves nine children, ages kindergarten through 13, and has the capacity to serve a total of 59.
While at the center, children get help on their homework and computer work; play games; do crafts; and enjoy the company of other children.
"The parents are very thankful that we are there," Houser said. "The kids get social and emotional skills and we're here so that they don't have to be home by themselves while their parents are at work."
She added that even though the program is an afterschool program, she is there in the mornings to help some children get off to school as well.
Houser also announced that the Lights On Afterschool program will be hosting an open house on Thursday, Oct. 21, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the church. Everyone is welcome to come and see what the program has to offer.
For more information on the program or the open house, contact the church at (570) 427-2331 and ask for Ginny.
In other matters, the commissioners have canceled next week's commissioners' meeting.
They explained that the reason for the cancellation is due to an invitation to attend Speaker of the House Keith McCall's Senior Health Fair, which will take place on Thursday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Jim Thorpe Memorial Hall.
O'Gurek said that the board wants to attend because they want to meet the seniors and talk to them about county issues and if they would go after the meeting, they would miss the majority of the residents who attend the fair early.