Get in the Game!

What happens when you combine a dodgeball tournament and community organizations? You Get in the Game! On Saturday, March 21st we helped the Penns Valley Area School District put on an event to encourage youth to get involved in our community. The idea behind the event came a few months before, when a survey taken by students showed that when community involvement is low, engagement in risky behavior is high. The event was geared for 5th through 12th grade students.

Festivities began with a spirit week the week before the event, and an assembly for the students that gave them the opportunity to ask a panel of community-involved adults about why they think it is important for youth to be involved in our community.

On Saturday, students and families were piling in before the doors were even set to open. Over 320 students registered and the number of people in attendance was at least double that when including families and volunteers. The community showcase involved twenty-seven  different organizations that displayed information on tables and spoke with students about their particular organization and how students can get plugged in. It was a wide variety of organizations, including: athletic, educational, conservation, religious, social, and assistance. Students were given a Passport when they registered, and in order to win the large prizes, they had to visit at least 8 organizations, write a fun fact for each, and receive a signature from the representative. At the same time, 35 teams were dodging balls in the gym as the tournament began. If you were in the bleachers, you had to watch out for flying balls so you didn’t take one to the face!

Overall, it was a much more successful event than we could have imagined and according to the students, it was AWESOME! We are looking forward to making this an annual event! It is our hope, that students found a place to get involved in our community and that we will find ways to encourage them to do so throughout the year.

Thank you to everyone who donated all of the amazing food and to everyone who volunteered to make the event happen! Thank you to the school district for including us in this very important endeavor!


CityServe 2015: Hope for the Homeless


Ever wonder where you next meal would come from? Have you slept out under the stars in below zero temperatures because you didn’t have a home to stay in? We took a group of 15 teens and adults to spend time with the homeless in Pittsburgh. This is the second year we took this trip, but the first year that we experienced in a very small way what it would be like to be homeless for a day.

We started our trip at World Vision Pittsburgh sorting boxes of donations to be shipped out all over the world to those in need. We sorted and boxed thousands of hats, both baseball caps and winter hats. It was fast paced but so much fun as we challenged each other to do more boxes than the other groups.

20150222_083035After we left, we headed to the North Side where we would begin our homeless experience during the Sleep-Out with L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry. A homeless friend shared his testimony about his struggle with money and years of being in and out of homelessness. That night we slept out in an abandoned building with the temperature at 6 degrees. There wasn’t much sleeping that happened that night as we all shivered, tossed and turned. While it was only one night for us and it was so difficult, there are over 1,200 homeless in Pittsburgh who do that every night.

IMG_9201The next day we broke up into groups and went to engage the homeless camps and to take them supplies. Talking with them about their stories and experiences was more important and impactful than any of the supplies we took them. That night we participated in a worship service with some men from the local shelter. We can’t wait to go back next year and work with L.I.V.I.N.G. Ministry again.

How do you reach out to those in need in your every day life? Could you be more intentional about making a difference in someone’s life who might just need you to say “Hello”?


A Night of Art and Music


“Art is the window to man’s soul.”-Lady Bird Johnson

With art programs being trimmed in schools, we decided to hold our annual Art Show and Open Mic Night as a way to support and encourage youth to develop their creativity. This year, 9 winners from the art show will be spending a 3-hour group painting lesson with world known, local artist Karl Eric Leitzel.

Open to the community, the art show displayed art work by 18 teens in a variety of mediums such as drawing, painting, and photography. Friends, family, and people from all over Penns Valley came out to support the young artists. The talent was amazing!

Along with the art show, we joined with the Old Gregg School Community Center for their monthly Open Mic Night. After everyone admired the artwork, they loaded up their plates with food and sat around the gym listening to performers on the stage. Many of the teens took a turn at the mic.

Check out photos from the evening on our Facebook page! We can’t wait for next year…so get painting!

Christmas Workshop 2014…


This year’s theme for our Christmas Workshop was “Get a little. Give a lot.”. The teens started out the day with “Get a little” by decorating their Gingerbread House with a vast array of assorted candies. Each house was very unique and three of the teens won a gift card for their design. Later in the evening, teens did a White Elephant gift exchange and it was hilarious to see some of the gifts they opened!


The teens had opportunities to “Give a lot.” as they made fresh evergreen swags to give to their mothers or family member, baked and packaged cookies, and filled jars with dry soup ingredients to be given out in food baskets throughout the community. The grumbles of disinterest soon gave way to teens wanting to make more.




The Sunday following the workshop, PVYC teens joined Penns Valley Community Church to fill baskets with donated food items and the cookies and soup jars they had put together during the workshop. The  42 baskets were given out to families in our community, some of whom were families of our PVYC teens.

Teens Bring Joy to Wynwood House…

Every month, we have a “Get In The Van” Tuesday. Our December outing was to the Wynwood House, assisted living, in Centre Hall. The teens were told ahead of time that we would be going there to sing Christmas carols and they were excited to do so! We had seven teens take time out of their day to share joy with those who might not have such a joyful holiday. We walked up and down each hall way, singing our set of carols. One resident asked us if the teens were a choir that sings together regularly because they sounded beautiful.  Residents sang along with us, smiled, and shared stories of Christmases past. One lady shared how she used to take a group of teens around caroling when she was younger, and hoped that we didn’t mind her standing next to us to sing.

Before we left, we noticed that it was one of the resident’s birthday. Since it was dinner time, all of the residents were in the dining area so we asked an aide to point out who’s birthday it was. We gathered around her and sang “Happy Birthday.”

We, the leaders, talked after we left about how the experience impacted us and hoped that the teens left that day with  a little bit of joy in their hearts, as well!

Bringing our community together: Thanksgiving Dinner


For the second year, Penns Valley Youth Center and Penns Valley Community Church joined together to to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for our community. This year, despite the 5 inches of snow that accumulated through out the day, we served over 200 people in the gym at the Old Gregg School Community Center and packed up over 50 to-go meals. The gym was full of delicious aromas and the sound of friends and neighbors greeting each other. What brings people together better than food?!

The day began around 9am with setting up the tables and organizing the place settings. Once that task was complete, the preparations for cooking began! Soon the kitchen was all a bustle with volunteers making stuffing and all of the other delicious foods that were to be served that evening.

The calm before the storm (although the literal snowstorm was still in effect), came at lunchtime when the volunteers had a break to eat lunch and tell stories of the olden days. It was an amazing time of fellowship as multiple generations sat around the table and shared.

Once 4pm rolled around, it was back to the hurried work of finishing the food preparation, cutting deserts, and filling drink dispensers. Teens from the youth center helped with this work, and made signs for the entry way, as well. Everything was set and the doors were ready to be opened. A few people showed up early but we were happy to welcome them. Once we gave thanks to God for the food, the line for the food formed and the rest is history.

We are so grateful for all that was provided for this meal by the generous people of Penns Valley. We had a little left over and blessed the volunteers who worked tirelessly that day. Thank you to everyone who was involved and we look forward to doing it again next year! We love Penns Valley!

New Activity: Quilting Club with Christine Hurd


Do your remember the amazing quilts that were auctioned off at our Fundraising Banquet this past April? Christine Hurd, the maker of two of those quilts, is volunteering her time to teach teens at the youth center to make a quilt that will then be auctioned off at the banquet this coming spring. Teens will use room 104 to cut, organize, and sew the material on Wednesdays at 4:30pm. We are excited to auction off an item made by the teens!

Fall Retreat: What’s Your Label?


We have all experienced a time where we wore a “label” that someone placed on us or that we let our circumstances define us as. Teens struggle with negative labels every day. We took 26 teens on an overnight retreat to Kamp K to talk about their labels and what is really true about them…that they are beautifully and wonderfully made. We also had a great time growing closer as a group through an outdoor challenge course and then cheered each other on as we participated in a zip line. It is during events like these that the teens open up about their struggles in life and real emotional healing begins.  We love to have fun but we also love to grow closer as the PVYC family!

Check out pictures from the retreat and other events on our Facebook page!

Harvest Fest: Pumpkins, Pies, Apples, and Sling Shots


A fall party wouldn’t be complete with out pumpkin carving, pie eating contest, and apple bobbing! Those are just a few of the activities the teens and staff competed in during our Harvest Party! After we carved our pumpkins and enjoyed an amazing dinner provided by the Grace UCC Ladies of Grace group, we piled onto a hay wagon and went for a ride down Sinking Creek Road to a nearby farm. Then the festivities ensued! A favorite of the night was our version of the Pumpkin Chunkin….we painted little gourds with glow-in-the-dark paint and the teens took turns using the sling shot to try and hit a target out in the corn field. By the end of the night, our faces were wet from apple bobbing and our stomachs full from the pie eating contest. We rounded out our night hanging out around the bonfire drinking warm apple cider. We were so glad not to get rained out this year!

Tailgate 2014:Let’s Go PV Rams!


What is one of the biggest traditions at any football game? A tailgate party! We love to show our support for PVYC students who participate in sports so this year we set up a tailgate at the homecoming football game for the Penns Valley Rams.  We had lots of great food and games! Not to mention, we got to meet so many new teens and community members! We hope to continue the tradition next year!