The high number of single-parent households in Bethlehem, PA means that many children are at a higher risk of being left without support when their guardians are out of the home, like in the summer or after school hours. However, since 2012, children in this area have instead been able to enjoy fun educational activities, hot meals, and a safe place to stay, thanks to the Lynfield Community Center.
Tucked away on the South Side, this community center—the only one in the area—is small but mighty, allowing children to spend time in a secure and enriching environment instead of on the streets. The Lynfield Community Center hosts a variety of classes, tutoring sessions, and fun activities that serve as opportunities for the kids to not only learn and grow but also to become more involved in their neighborhood.
Founders Roy and Malta Ortiz are both active and respected community members: Roy is a Commissioner for the Bethlehem Housing Authority and a Director of the Bethlehem Area School District board, and Malta manages the community garden and leads cooking classes at the Center, which often feature the garden’s freshly-grown produce. The couple is passionate about supporting families in need and ensuring that all children have a safe place to grow up.
“We have 200 homes in our community, and the majority of these children only have one parent living with them. We just don’t want the streets raising them. Our Center is a safe haven for our children to do their homework, play sports, [create] artwork and be part of the summer program and after-school program,” the Ortiz’s said.
Beyond helping Bethlehem-area children, the Center uplifts the entire community, often involving other local leaders and institutions—like Nikki Testa and her organization Backpack Pals, which collects food items and supplies for children in the school district; the Ebenezer Fellowship Church, which offers religious programs; students from nearby colleges who volunteer to tutor; and more. And the doors are always open to those in need, even outside of the neighborhood.
“We not only serve our community, but we also serve anyone—they don’t have to live in our community. We just help those who need help,” the Ortiz’s said. “We are very proud of what we have accomplished—we have made our community stronger than ever before. They know we are here for them if they are ever in need. But we still got a ways to go.”
Given the volume of families who rely on the Lynfield Community Center, financial support and donations are always in demand and welcomed. To give back to the Lynfield Community Center with time, donations, or other forms of aid, please visit https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MTQ2MDE5