AMBRIDGE, Pa. (KDKA) – As school schedules continue to change, parents are left scrambling to balance work and at-home learning.
“We are not a babysitting service, we truly are a last resort,” said Cindy Deschaine, who is the director of outreach at the Good Samaritan Roman Catholic Church.
That church has now become a pandemic pod for Ambridge students currently operating under a hybrid model.
“One mom said the only choice she had is to set her child on the computer in the morning and go to work and hope when something went wrong, the teacher would catch it on the camera. And I knew then we had to do something,” Deschaine said.
Roughly 20 kindergarten through third graders spend the remote learning days inside the church. In a time where most childcare is expensive or unavailable, a group of women wanted to extend a hand into the community for free.
“We said, ‘let’s call it Safe Haven’ because really that’s the intent. This is an environment where our students can have the continuity of education but still be in a safe environment,” said Terry Mylan, who helped create Safe Haven.
Inside the two classrooms is an army of volunteers.
“I’m not very equipped with computers by no means, but just the love and affection to give back and the smile on their face just makes it all worthwhile,” said volunteer Mary Ann Schneider.
The goal is to make sure that the students who had nowhere else to go get that one-on-one attention.
“They have this thing they go on and do activities and some come in and have 90 activities, which means nobody is helping them at home, so the little bit they help here helps the children,” Schneider said.
While no two days are the same or even perfect, this group of volunteers and students continue to show up each day.
“I really feel like we’ve formed some really deep relationships with these kids,” Deschaine said.
The group hopes to keep the pandemic pod operating until it’s no longer needed, but they could use donations of snacks and cleaning supplies. If you would like to donate, you are asked to drop them off at the church in Ambridge.