At first glance, not much has changed in the more than six years that I’ve known Miss Maggie. The modest building at 942 Joseph Ave. in Rochester is still drafty and in need of some updates. The “Million Pennies Drive” poster still hangs on a wood-paneled wall and tables sit ready for the dozens of children who will race through the doors after school for a snack, for help with their homework and for a good, deep dose of hope.
That’s Community Lutheran Ministry.
For 20 years Deaconess Maggie Harris has reached out to one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. It’s a place where 2-year-olds might not have books in their houses; where 9-year-olds go to school tired from sleeping on the floor; and where 16-year-olds may see more guns than square meals.
But for a few hours after school – and for six weeks during the summer – neighborhood kids escape some of that with Miss Maggie. She reads to them, brings in speakers, teaches cooking classes, makes sure they have winter coats and at least one present under the Christmas tree, and fills summer days with fun trips, free lunches and the idea that there’s more to life than poverty and violence.
For years, Community Lutheran has squeaked by financially. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are good and so are the weeks leading up to summer camp. The rest of the year is tight, but somehow bills get paid and kids get taken care of.
But this time, with the economy still stumbling along, Miss Maggie needs more help than ever. She’s looking for volunteers of all ages to read with children and play board games on Saturdays. Plus, she’d like more children’s clothing to hand out, especially clothes for boys; individually wrapped snacks; household items like irons and furniture; books and craft supplies.
And she could really use a handy person to paint and tackle other repairs that need to be done around the old building so she can focus on helping kids make the kind of changes that are more personal and spiritual.
If you’d like to help, call (585) 338-2420.