The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 30, 2013

Positive influence: Volunteers play key role in Learning Lamp program

— Numerous volunteers have given much of their time to help children excel at a program developed by The Learning Lamp, a nonprofit organization whose mission is helping students succeed.

Angela Rizzo, development director for the Stonycreek Township-based organization, said the volunteers have done an amazing job for the children at their free, after-school programs in Moxham, Prospect and Oakhurst.

“The volunteers have given hundreds of hours to help the children with homework and spend time with them,” Rizzo said.

Holly Lees, outreach coordinator for The Learning Lamp, said the volunteers provide invaluable support.

“With the help of our volunteers, our staff is able to focus on the specific needs of each child in our program,” she said.

Michele Morealli of Johnstown, who volunteers with her husband, Ryan, at the Prospect location, said it’s important to be involved in the community, especially when children are involved.

“I get a lot out of it also,” she said.

Michele Morealli, who is employed in the human resources department of Concurrent Technologies Corp., said they start the day by tutoring the students, followed by helping to serve a meal and participating in activities with the children.

Ryan Morealli, who is employed in the information technology department at CTC, said he enjoys helping the children with homework when necessary, socializing with them, and listening to them talk about how their day has gone.

Anjenet Noel, of South Fork, said the after-school program is good for the children.

“We’re able to help a wide age group,” said Noel, who has a master’s degree in business adminstration from the University of Maryland University College and helps with the Prospect program.

JonLuke Varner, of Hollsopple, who helps with the Moxham program, said the program provides the children with a safe environment in which to do homework.

Varner, who attends Indiana University of Pennsylvania, said he had a learning disability while in secondary school and would not have made it to college without the benefit of an after-school program.

“I just felt that this was the best way that I could return that favor,” he said.

Marjorie Smith, of Westmont, started volunteering with the Moxham program because she missed being around children upon retiring as a teacher at Conemaugh Valley Elementary School.

“I like helping the children with their homework,” she said.

Amber Peretin, of Salix, who attends Susquehanna University in Snyder County, helped with the Moxham program during her Christmas break.

“I just think it’s a great program,” she said.

Rudy Savory, who lives in Prospect and is a former mainframe terminal operator on Wall Street, volunteers for the program through his role as president of the Prospect Residents Council.

Savory said that when he became council president, he began searching for ways to help children in the neighborhood.

“I got in touch with The Learning Lamp and they came in and started a program,” he said.

For their efforts, the seven volunteers are the Persons of the Week.

Tribune-Democrat editors select a Person of the Week from nominations made by readers. To nominate someone, call 532-5058, 24 hours a day.

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