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Community Engagement with the St. Francis Center

June 19, 2017 by Julie Picot

Immaculate Conception School Student placing fresh produce in the basket of an elderly woman

Immaculate Conception School Student placing fresh produce in the basket of an elderly woman

Immaculate Conception School (ICS) has enjoyed a partnership with the St. Francis Center (SFC) since 2010 when they opened an after school academic support program on our campus.  At that time, selected students in grades three through eight had daily homework assistance as well as enrichment opportunities, such as a cooking class.  Additionally, the participants’ parents attended workshops that supported them as advocates for their child’s education.  Unfortunately, loss of funding in the 2013-2014 school year meant the program had to be ended.  However, our partnership continued to flourish!
 
Over the years, our students have volunteered at the St. Francis Center by helping with their breakfast program, entertaining seniors, or preparing food for the Pantry Program.  In addition, students at ICS annually collect toiletries, socks, and food for the community served by the SFC.  It is a great way for the children to be involved citizens and make a difference in the community!  Even on weekends and during the summer, some ICS middle school students, parents, and ICS alums continue on their own to volunteer at SFC and promote their services.
 
St. Francis Center has also referred a few families in need to Immaculate Conception School so their children would receive a quality education founded in the teachings of God’s love.  These families, who could not afford the tuition necessary, were able to receive tuition assistance in thanks to grants and the charity of people who support ICS.  We also offered them many layers of support including counseling, homework assistance, and help getting uniforms and school supplies.
 
Likewise, through the generosity of SFC, ICS families in need are eligible to receive food weekly from the SFC Pantry Program.  We were honored then, that in January 2016, our campus became a satellite site for the Food Pantry.  On any given Friday afternoon, you can see people from the surrounding community lined up outside the ICS basketball courts waiting for the Pantry to open.  Furthermore, children of families in our community who are registered for the Pantry are also eligible to take advantage of many extended opportunities during the summer, such as day camps, cooking classes, and the overnight camp at Circle V Ranch Camp sponsored by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  
 
So many families and children have been supported by the wonderful work being done by the St. Francis Center, especially in times of financial difficulty and food insecurity.  Overall this partnership is a blessing to all involved, and one that will continue to grow in the years to come.  We feel blessed to be a part of such a loving collaboration and community.

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