The Church in the Community!

Downtown South Lyon, Michigan, Pontiac Trail

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Crafters wanted

The First United Methodist Church of Northville is looking for crafters and vendors to be part of its Bizarre Bazaar, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22. The event will benefit Village Bank, which offers business loans to women living in desperately poor countries. For details and to reserve your space, visit, e-mail, find the event on Facebook, or call (248) 446-8175.

Summer lunch program

First United Methodist Church in South Lyon will be offering a free lunch program to fill the summer need for students whose families have financial needs. First United Methodist Church is located at 640 S. Lafayette in South Lyon. The lunches will be served on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the summer weeks (through Sept. 1) from noon until 2 p.m.

Teen on mission to rebuild playground

Eagle Scout project to help church’s school

By the end of the summer, it’s Eric Benitez’s goal to see a playground at Christ United Methodist Church in Lehigh Acres.

The 14-year-old has made it his Eagle Scout project to achieve the highest rank as a scout. One of the requirements is to develop and plan a service project.

The wooden playground at Crossroads Preschool, which is based at the church, had to be torn down in May because it was rotting.

“He’s trying to do a portion of this on his own,” Gina Rost, director at Crossroads, said of Benitez. “He’s a great kid.”

Benitez is a member of Troop 11, which meets at the church. He has been a Boy Scout for five years.

His mother, Fiona Kolenda, 32, said her son is excited about the project.

Benitez was unavailable to speak for this article because he was on a camping trip with his troop.

“I had been thinking about a backpack drive or canned food, something simpler,” Kolenda said. “So when he told me I told him I would back him up with the playground, but to be well aware it was going to be a big task.”

Rost estimates the new playground will cost $6,000.

With recent budget cuts to voluntary pre-kindergarten programs around the state, Rost already expects $10,000 less to come in to the school’s budget for the upcoming school year.

She said at one point, she wasn’t sure if the school would open next year. But they’ll push forward regardless, she said.

“My husband was born and raised here in Lehigh Acres and said this church was always full of kids,” Rost said.

The state-funded program takes 46 students every year at Crossroads and it’s already full.

Playing outside is one part of the preschool’s curriculum.

“They need to climb and ride bikes,” Rost said. “It’s important for their cognitive and gross motor skills.”

If a child can bounce a ball against a wall and then catch it, Rost said, he or she can learn how to read because it requires the same movement of the eye.

Her daughter, Krosley, 4, played on the swings last Friday, while Rost’s son Coleman, 13, raked the grounds where the playground used to be.

Nearby, beside a small sidewalk path for kids to ride bikes and a bench, there are few other outdoor play areas for the kids to use.

Rost applied for a music grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation for an outdoor musical instrument to educate the little ones on instruments.

In the meantime, she’s relying on any community support to have a new playground for the school by the time school starts in August.

For the next month, Kolenda expects to see her son approaching local businesses for funding as well as holding a car wash.

As a single mom, she said it’s encouraging to see her son succeeding and striving to help others.

“He’s learning values that are going to last a lifetime,” she said.


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