MARTINSBURG — As summer approached, the Boys & Girls Club of the Eastern Panhandle sought a way to keep summer programming available in Martinsburg, with the club’s house on John Street set to be closed for renovations during the season.
So when Calvary United Methodist Church stepped in, providing a space for the programming to be held, club staff and attendees couldn’t have been happier.
“It has been amazing. It was difficult at first, as we were thinking about our summer, our location being closed and trying to find a different location, staring at the thought of maybe not being able to offer it. When that opportunity presented itself, it made our summer,” said Kait Romero, BGCEP Unit Director. “We are back to planning. We didn’t skip a beat, we just kept going. The amount of programming we’ve been able to offer this year is comparable to the amount we’ve been able to do every two summers, and it’s just wonderful to be able to have a spot and not have to cancel and leave those kids out.”
Calvary United Methodist Church has been located in its current building on West Burke Street in Martinsburg for 154 years, according to Pastor Lynn Wilson, and offering the beloved space to those who could use it was a fitting gesture for the congregation.
“This congregation that is here now is one of the most generous congregations I have worked with in 20 years of ministry,” Wilson said. “Anything anyone needs in the community, if they can do it, they will do it.”
Wilson said the congregation was more than happy for the Boys & Girls Club to use the space for its programming.
“The building hasn’t been in use for barely a night, and of course this summer it was used Monday through Friday with the Boys & Girls Club,” Wilson said. “It makes me feel so good when I park in the parking lot, and I hear so many kids playing, laughing, having fun and knowing they’re safe doing it.”
Stacie Rohn, executive director of the BGCEP, said Romero is on the front line working with Wilson every day during the summer lineup.
“She makes sure the relationship is going well and that we’re good neighbors,” Rohn said. “It’s always a concern we have whenever we partner with someone, because we want to leave a space that’s better than we found.”
Between a gymnasium, fellowship room, classroom and more, Rohn said the location provided a dynamic atmosphere for different activities for children.
“It’s a wonderful space,” Rohn said. “We were able to provide sports and recreational activities in the gymnasium, arts and crafts, and social and emotional learning in the classroom and in the scholarship room.”
Rohn added that even the food program for the summer was made so much easier and accessible thanks to Calvary and the space it allowed the BGCEP to use.
“I think the biggest blessing is knowing that before this partnership we always had many wonderful friends in the community, but now I see we have a whole new group of friends who are really helping to create wonderful opportunities for children,” Rohn said. “It is our mission. We want to make sure our children have some of the biggest and best opportunities, and space without that is hit or miss.
Rohn and Romero thanked Wilson and the parishioners of Calvary United Methodist Church for helping move forward a successful summer program.
“When we see there’s a need, or someone comes to us with a need, like Stacie did in the spring, then we do what we can to meet that need,” added Wilson. “We depend on God to bring us the people He wants us to serve.”
Rohn added, “We really would have had a hard time having a summer program if they hadn’t stepped in and blessed us with this gift.”
Romero said the partnership allowed the program to continue through the summer, but also provided additional programming opportunities for BGCEP youth.
“Some of them have joined Vacation Bible School here, and I’ve heard rave reviews about it,” she said. “It was wonderful to open up this opportunity that they might not have known about and which is also right downtown.”
“We try to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need,” Wilson said. “That’s our goal.”