Jarrod Kinkley is originally from St. Marys, Ohio and recently graduated from the University of Dayton last May with a degree in Music Education. He is currently serving in the Change A Heart FranciscanVolunteer Program, where his placement is at Focus On Renewal, specifically at the Father Ryan Arts Center.
To get to my service placement from downtown, we have to hop onto one of these beauties (above) and take it for about 15 minutes to get to the Borough of McKees Rocks. The bus is always an interesting experience, never on time but our usual driver, “Gruff”, is always happy to see us and we often make small talk on our way on or off the bus.
Then we arrive in McKees Rocks, home to the best Pierogies in Pittsburgh! Britany continues on the bus to the Sto-Rox Family Health Center and I get off to walk the block and a half to the Father Ryan Arts Center.
The FRAC (Father Ryan Arts Center) is a beautiful building that’s centered on arts classes and cultural experiences for the community. I roll in the door at about 8:55 am consistently and get to work. My job is to help out with educational and programming directives in the center as well as whatever else might need done.
Around 11:15am, I go to the community center for about two hours. The center is an old bank that’s been setup to fit the needs of a community center. The doors are open from 9-5 for anyone one in the community to come in and enjoy free coffee, lunch, conversation and a myriad of other services.
While I’m at the community center, I get a chance to serve lunch to a variety of people from the community. The people there range from homeless, to established, to bored, to animated individuals who crave interaction. Before and after I serve lunch, I spend some time with the people and engage in conversation. These are probably the two most life giving hours of my day, talking with people that give life the flavor and kick we could all use to make us a little uncomfortable. About three weeks after I started going to the community center, people on the street of the neighborhood starting calling out, “Hey Mr. K, how you doin!?” or “Yo, J-rod! I’ll see you tomorrow!”
Around 1pm, I make my way back to the FRAC to help facilitate a program called “Reader’s Theater.” It’s a program to improve literacy for the third and second graders of the area schools. The students get a nursery rhyme or children’s story with a twist and learn about diction, pronunciation, coloring their words with emotion. They get to design scenery for their final performance and they also get to create their costumes, under the supervision of teaching artists.
After Reader’s Theater, around 3pm, I return to my desk for the remaining two hours of the work day and take care of various paperwork, photo/video editing for Reader’s Theater, filing, organizing, all while enjoying a hot cup of coffee or tea.
Then it’s back home for a quick supper and then my community occasionally goes adventuring to a local park, taking every opportunity we can to make a scene. These are my favorite moments. We get to go out and be active while having fun, getting to know each other and taking advantage of all that surrounds us!
Sometimes we’ll watch a movie together, have prayer night, bake delicious goodies, I might play guitar or recycle a wood pallet into a coffee table! (You know…everyday stuff)
I end each day with a “Thanks-for-the-day prayer” in some form, whether it’s community prayer, prayer with a friend, my Lay Marianist Community or by myself before bed.