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Linglestown Life church creates community center to fulfill needs in Harrisburg to increase child literacy, gardening and more

Construction is set to be completed by June 12 for the summer reading kick-off event, according to coordinators. During the event, kids will receive books.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Linglestown Life United Methodist Church is leading construction efforts to create a community center that fulfills needs in Harrisburg that includes increasing children's literacy, gardening and more.

“We just try to figure out what the community actually wants," said Taylor Pfaff, Linglestown Life, Rockville campus pastor. "We don't want to come and say this is what everyone needs."

"Ray's Place" was created after organizers talked to families in the community during the Community Classroom Project and began to re-think how the church can engage with the community and create meaningful relationships.

Among these needs is a space for children's education assistance and a place to grow vegetables and fruit because of the neighborhood's grocery store shortage. 

The center is a former community boat and car garage named after the previous owner Ray. Organizers also wanted to use the word "ray" to symbolize how bright community members' futures are. 

"What I’m hoping the community gets from this is just to get a really strong identity and empowerment," said Pfaff.

Construction is set to be completed by June 12 for the summer reading kick-off event, according to coordinators.  During the event, kids will receive books. 

Every Tuesday following the event, members of the community will help kids remain on grade level with reading. Pfaff said organizers decided to help children who were falling behind due to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

RELATED: Helpful tips for teaching kids how to read while at home

The center will also provide a space for community groups. 

“I don’t know where it’s going to take us five years to ten years from now, but I'm just excited for the community to feel like it’s their own," said Pfaff. 

RELATED: Two Central PA organizations team up to help continue the education of immigrant children during COVID-19