Wethersfield Congregations Team up to “Radiate” Love for Hartford Schools

 

Wethersfield Congregations Team up to “Radiate” Love for Hartford Schools

 

RELEASE DATE: August 11, 2015
 
Contact: Rev. Tom Walsh, 860-558-1672
  Paul Marks, 860-841-7148
  Burt Johnson, 860-398-0533
 
Two schools in Hartford’s North End will get a facelift inside and out on Labor Day weekend through the efforts of four Wethersfield churches, which are fielding more than a hundred volunteers for a day-long effort.
 
The Sept. 5 “Radiate” project at the Dr. Martin Luther King School and the Frank T. Simpson-Waverly School in Hartford’s North End will include landscaping, painting and general clean-up. Work will run from 9 a.m. through 4 p.m.
 
The four Wethersfield churches – First Church of Christ, CenterPoint Community Church, NewLife Christian Fellowship and Wethersfield Evangelical Free Church – are working alongside Urban Alliance, a Hartford nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for people to achieve lasting change in their lives through the collaborative work of churches and other local organizations.
 
“We’re calling it ‘Radiate’ because we want to shine forth the love of God through people who follow what Jesus taught about caring for others who are in need,” said the Rev. Tom Walsh, associate pastor at First Church of Christ. “The idea is to break down barriers between the city and the suburbs. With this special, one-day project and ongoing ministries such as Hartford City Mission, we’re seeing the North End transformed for the better.”
 
Last year, the first joint Radiate project tackled a large-scale beautification effort at Mill Woods Park in Wethersfield. Hundreds of volunteers from the four churches braved poison ivy and nests of wasps to slash away overgrown brush and beautify the park’s pond. Buildings and benches were painted. 
 
In seeking a project for this year, Walsh said he and other church leaders wanted to “step outside our comfort zone a little” and make an impact on the City of Hartford. Urban Alliance is enlisting volunteers from several North End churches to work alongside those from the Wethersfield congregations.
 
“There was a strong feeling that this year we should consider opportunities in the city, where the needs are so great and resources scarce,” said Burt Johnson, who is coordinating volunteer assignments. “We felt we could really begin to bridge the gap between a service project and personal ministry.”
The project was embraced enthusiastically by school principals Dr. Doreen Crawford at Martin Luther King School and Leanardo Watson at Simpson-Waverly School. They met with project leaders to agree on a list of needed improvements to the schools’ physical plants – including painting of hallways and classrooms at Simpson-Waverly.
 
“This shows what a difference a little love and effort can make for our students,” Crawford said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to address some longstanding needs that aren’t easily covered by our regular budget in this time of extremely tight school resources.”
 
“Our students deserve a learning environment that is inviting, vibrant, warm and colorful,” Watson said. “This effort of church volunteers and parents from the community is the true meaning of community engagement that will ensure we see that achieved at our schools.”
 
The connection between the suburban churches and the Hartford schools was made through Partnership for Student Success, part of Urban Alliance’s Next Generation initiative, which helps young people in Greater Hartford develop the skills, character and competencies needed to transition into adulthood.
 
“We’re excited about serving for the good of the students,” Walsh said. “And what we’re really doing is joining these dedicated Hartford teachers and administrators in the incredibly faithful work they’ve been doing for years!”
 
Rosaicela Rodriguez of Urban Alliance (third from left) introduced the Radiate project leaders to principals Dr. Doreen Crawford (second from right) of Martin Luther King School and Leanardo Watson (third from right) of Simpson-Waverly School. Also shown are the Rev. Tom Walsh and his wife, Lisa (on left), and volunteers Tristram Gaillard (center) and Marla Darius (at far right). 
 
Radiate Churches are:
 
First Church of Christ – Pastor Deryk Richenburg  http://firstchurch.org
 
CenterPoint Community Church – Pastor Chris Skowronek  http://centerpointct.org
 
NewLife Christian Fellowship – Pastor Eric Stillman  http://newlife-ct.org
 
Wethersfield Evangelical Free Church – Pastor Scott Solberg  http://wethefc.com
 

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