Whether in Boutte, Killona or St. Rose, St. Charles Parish’s community centers are ramping up activities once again in October.
Ferdneit Bailey, special programs supervisor for St. Charles Parish’s Department of Community Services, said the community centers are putting the word out that their doors are open and programs available once more, a process that began in September following closings earlier this year for COVID-19.
“We’re trying to get back into the swing of things, while at the same time we’re making sure the kids and staff are both safe,” Bailey said. “We’ve got protocols in place to make sure that’s the case …we started to get people back in last month, and once they did come in and took a look around to see how much we’ve spaced our tables out, that we’re taking kids’ temperatures and making sure everyone is masked up at all times, we’ve been getting increased participation.”
One of the key services provided comes in the form of tutoring. While the pandemic has limited so many activities over the past several months, the need many students have for that academic assistance hasn’t disappeared.
There are multiple tutors at each site that help children with homework or general school subject matter. Sometimes, the help is extended to parents as well, as tutors might be able to help a parent navigate certain elements of their child’s e-learning system. Tutoring is scheduled in hour-long blocks and split by different grade levels. This differs from last year, where only one site – Boutte – could offer tutoring.
While tutoring is held most days, there are also several themed events for children, teens and adults to participate in, where one can socialize and perhaps even learn a new skill or two.
At the Boutte center, for example, on Oct. 12 1st-3rd graders can learn how to craft Fall wreaths. On the 15th, there’s a King Cake Bingo event for 4th-6th graders. On the 22nd, 1-3rd graders can boogie for a dance workout, while the 4th-6th graders can get together to paint and compare pumpkins on Oct. 29 – one of several Halloween themed events this month, as one might figure. And on the 31st, the site holds its annual Fall Festival.
The number of participants varies for each event, and certain activities require an RSVP, as participation may need be limited due to space/COVID restrictions.
“But we make sure to let them know if they can’t get in for bingo, they can come by for adult craft, for example,” she said. “We want them to know about the next one coming up. There’s always something around the corner.”
It was important to get these services back up and running, Bailey said, because beyond each individual service provided, the parish’s community centers help provide a sense of normalcy for residents.
“They look forward to coming,” she said. “They miss coming over because they know here at the center, number one, they have fun and number two, they can get their homework done. It’s also a chance to come experience their community, to feel welcome and to feel loved.”
To that end, efforts have been made to get the word out in the community that the centers are open once again.
“We’ve been doing neighborhood walk throughs to let parents and residents know we’re open, that we have these programs, and they should feel free to drop by,” Bailey said. “It lets them know we care about them. And our traffic has increased a lot in the past month, which is great to see.”