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Getting to Know Your Neighbor: The church house literacy center

A FORMER WORSHIP CENTER — The “church house,” located at 79 Smith St. in Springville was the Assembly of God church. Journal file photo.

SPRINGVILLE — The Country Life Programs Success Center has been helping students improve their literacy skills at its 56 East Main St. Springville location since August. This February, founder Jeannine Klock’s dream of hosting the program she devised in her “church house” will finally be realized, after more than a decade of work.

The CLPSC is a holistic learning center that combines music, the Project Child learning delivery model, speech therapy techniques and higher-level thinking, to help students improve their literacy, regardless of what skills they possess at the start of the program.

When Klock developed the program, her intention was to open a learning center in the former Assembly of God Church, located at 79 Smith St. in Springville, what she and her family dubbed “the church house.

“It had no windows and no heat,” she said, of the condition in which she found the building. “But I had a vision, to open a tutoring center.”

Work on the building began in 2003, and Klock’s son’s friends started coming over, to watch the construction’s taking place. Reading with a few of the middle schoolers on the front porch turned into tutoring 20 students in reading, math and exam preparation.

“It wasn’t a formal tutoring center then,” Klock said. “We were just learning together and it grew into so much more.”

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE — The former altar will be turned into a stage, like at the downtown location. Photos by Lizz Schumer.

A grant from the Erie County Rehabilitation Program has contributed to the property’s external construction, as well as donations from Joe Gugino of B&B Homes and Bryan Cirbus of Cirbus Contracting, who both helped with the renovations.

A series of health problems put Klock’s work on hold for several years, and financial, logistical and miscommunication issues kept delaying the project, but Klock said she always wanted to open the church, and would not give up on that dream.

After the CLPSC opened on East Main Street, Pete Andrews, director of the Christian Youth Corps service organization, got in touch with Klock. The Delevan-based CYC donates materials and labor to community projects in need, around the Western New York area.

“We are all at the point where we can help one another to help our children in the community,” Klock said, of the partnership that formed. “The long and short of it is, the CYC is donating the materials that we need to finish what we started at the church house.”

With the help of CYC volunteers, electrician Mark Kent, who donated his services, and community members’ donations, the new center officially opens on Feb. 3.

BEFORE THE MAGIC HAPPENED — Painters came in to work on the interior ceiling and an electrician replaced the lights, before opening day.

“Pete called me and said, “the warehouses are up and running, and we’re ready to help you out with your project,” Klock said. “I started crying on the phone.

“We love our space downtown and Joe Emerling has been so wonderful and protective of us,” she added. “We have loved working together with Kempo Karate, the music store, JP [Nabozny] at The Barbershop to make a better learning center. We’re really going to miss that.”

Klock said that, as her center moves out of that space, she hopes it can be used for “something amazing,” to benefit local youth and community activities.

As for her own space, Klock said she is excited to be able to implement the pet therapy that was not possible in the downtown spot.

“The animals just calm [the children] right down,” she said, of nervous readers. “We couldn’t do it in the mini-mall, but the animals just love to be read to, and the results are amazing.”

Klock also plans to turn the former altar into a stage, similar to what the students had at the downtown location. She also plans to replace the floor in the hallway, fix all lighting fixtures and ask local artists to come and paint murals on the walls. Since the church house also has a full kitchen, Klock said she is going to teach the children menu-planning, to incorporate math and literacy skills into real-life situations.

“It’s really amazing, how the community all pitches in to help the children,” she said. “As soon as we knew we could come over here, the floodgates just opened. We were always meant to be here [in the church house]. Now, I can finish what I started in the community.”

But the CLPSC is not out of the woods yet, the founder added.

Through a combination of sponsors, donations and the “kindness of community members,” the CLPSC was able to scrabble together the money to allow some lower-income children to participate in the program, but several of those families have not been able to attend since Thanksgiving, because of a lack of funds. Although donations from local individuals and businesses have offered some scholarships, the business does need additional sponsors and paying participants, “because I need to get paid eventually,” Klock added.

But she’s not worried about that; not right now.

“It will all come, in God’s time,” she said. “Right now, I’m overjoyed to be realizing this dream. We’re all just thrilled it’s coming to fruition.”

For more information on the CLPSC, visit the group’s Facebook page, or call 592-2045 or 560-5832.


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