In the wake of recent homicides and other criminal activity in the Moxham section of Johnstown, two very different Take Back the Night events will be held – one a somber reflection and the other a time of celebration.
A Vigil Service will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Grove Avenue United Methodist Church, 501 Grove Ave., and a Day of Joy will be held from
2 to 4 p.m. May 25 in the church’s parking lot along Ohio Street.
The events will be sponsored by the church along with Victim Services Inc., YWCA of Greater Johnstown, Moxham Lutheran Church, Goodwill Industries and Beginnings Inc.
A loosely formed committee called the Community Connection Team came together after their organizations worked on a poverty simulation that will be held at Greater Johnstown High School on May 21.
“This is a spinoff network of nonprofits,” said the Rev. Ed. Schoeneck, pastor of Grove Avenue UMC.
Victims Services has not done a vigil service in many years and will focus on sexual and domestic violence, all forms of abuse and the violence, drugs, and crime that have threatened to take over the tree-lined neighborhood.
There will be a welcome by Cambria County Assistant District Attorney Tammy Bernstein, music and poetry by Pihs, survivor stories, a time for those present to share their stories, a volunteer recognition from all the agencies involved and a candlelight vigil march.
“This will be about people and life,” Schoeneck said. “We will end with the candlelight vigil on or around Ohio Street to be a light in the darkness.”
He said with the violent situations in Moxham, the church has been looked on as a way to bring comfort.
“Moxham is a wonderful spot to live, and it’s beginning to strengthen,” Schoeneck said. “I think the response to violence has brought us together in a new way. We have responded in a positive way. Maybe Moxham needed to be shaken up so we could know each other.”
On May 25, A Day of Joy will celebrate everything good about the area.
The outside get-together will be held in the parking lot of the Grove Avenue church along Ohio Street as a way to get the community together for some fun and free food, music and games.
There will be a welcome and flag ceremony, music by Painted by Millions and Anna Pihs & Friends, a boxing demonstration by Flood City Fitness, a kids craft extravaganza, Johnstown Police K9 demonstrations and a drum circle by the Kulani African dance group.
“I’ve lived in Moxham for seven years, and there are a lot of creative people,” Schoeneck said. “I’ve never lived in a community quite like this. This is a loving, caring neighborhood. There’s a lot to fight for. We’ve been maintaining a neighborhood watch group. We want to welcome everyone and have them be safe.”
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