Tioga: Mercy Neighborhood Ministries Gives Students an Educational Head Start

Bright lights shine on the beaming green and orange painted walls as the next group of children happily walked into the Mercy Neighborhood Ministries building located on W. Venango Street in Tioga.

The inviting staff and abundant open space offer some of the best amenities and educational assistance in the area for children in kindergarten through the eighth grade.

Mercy Neighborhood Ministries has been strengthening and helping families in the Tioga community for 20 years. It provides a dedicated staff, a safe haven for the kids of the community and a strong educational foundation.

Mercy Neighborhood Ministries’ executive director Sister Ann Provost has been working in the Tioga community for more than 30 years and has been a part of the program since its inception in 1997.

Provost, a member of the Sisters of Mercy, realized that after some of the churches in the community closed, a lot of key services would be lost.

Along with her fellow nuns, Provost designed an organization that would be able to respond to the needs of the community in a proper way.

“I think what stands out about Mercy Neighborhood Ministries is how it provides good services and how it is a respectful place,” said Provost. “It gives community members a place they are comfortable in, are respected in and a place that looks nice. We host a lot of community members and meetings and that interaction is one of the ways we can help the community grow.”

The building has numerous classrooms and play areas for the kids. In addition to those areas, they also have a seniors program and an adult education program, which allows students older than 19 to test and receive their GED certificate.

Program director Barbara Coleman has been a full-time member of the staff since 2008, overseeing each scheduled event in the building. Coleman said the teachers and staff know how important education is and they look to provide the absolute best they can for their kids.

“Our teachers here are passionate about education and they value education,” said Coleman. “We start with kids as early as the age of two and we try to build an educational foundation for them when they are young. This is much needed because a lot of our parents are single parents that nurture their children. Not a lot of the schools are as nice as our building but the kids feel welcomed here with the warm colors of the walls and the kindness of our staff.”

-Text, images and video by Hannah McComsey.

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