In 2014, the Montgomery Ministerium supported the efforts of Footprints Foodbank to establish a summer program for children with the goal of providing needed food for children. The idea was generated by information coming from the PA Dept of Education about USDA funds available for summer food programs; ultimately, these state funds were not used in 2014. Instead, a grant from the Central PA Food Bank and offerings from local churches provided funding; and food procured was stored at St John. A grant obtained by Cindy Crawford from Thrivent Financial was not used and placed in the St John Benevolence funds.
Named Summer Footprints, the 2014 program centered on healthy diets and healthy living, and was held at the Montgomery Park Pavillion. The program was held only for 4 weeks and only on Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 noon until 2 pm. The age targeted was K- 5th grade. Jenifer Bender and Joanna Barbagallo of the foodbank were responsible for the program and site supervision. Cindy Crawford, Carolyn Girard and Virginia Bailey prepared the food at St John kitchen and they not only served the food but became involved in many ways in the program itself.
In 2015, Pastor Viking Dietrich surveyed interest in such a program among institutions in Montgomery, including the school, the library, the churches, foodbank, borough office, Revitalize Montgomery etc. At an initial meeting on March 24, 2015, many of these groups came together and decided to pursue the idea of a summer program in 2015 (School Superintendent, Mayor, Pastor Bailey, Pastor Dietrich and Nancy Gruver, representatives of Revitalize Montgomery, the library, and students from the Leo Club all engaged).
Direction was provided by chairperson Viking Dietrich (Pastor at St John Brick) and steering committee members LuAnn Potter(Project Coffehouse), Tina Tickle (Revitalize Montgomery), Larry Stout and Cynthia Bower (Public Library), Tiffany Manthey and Nick Bowers (Students),Virginia Bailey (Pastor at First United Methodist), and Cindy Crawford (St John Brick)
Summer Alive 2015 ran for six weeks, three days a week offering activities in gardening, arts and crafts, games and sport, and participation in the Montgomery Library summer reading program. Thirty two children from 18 families participated. The average number of children per day was 16. Luann Potter was the director of activities with a special assignment of leading gardening activities. Tina Tickle led crafts and music; Cynthia Bower was responsible for the library program; Larry Stout helped with outdoor activities, while Viking Dietrich assured sign in and sign out. Teen volunteers - Sammy Thomas and Tiffany Manthey, Nick Bower, Dakota Pace, Sam Reed Isaac Dietrich, Margaret Dietrich helped to oversee the activities of the children. And many of our parents pitched in and lent a hand.
Summer Alive 2016 ran for eight weeks, four days a week offering the same activities as the previous year. DCNR came and had two stomps, taking the children to explore the life in the Susquehanna River and Black Hole Creek. Over 70 children were feed everyday, with over two hundred unique children registering. LuAnn Potter and Tina Tickle continued their work and Amanda Fox and Louie Grove were added as the first paid staffers in the food planning and preparation. Due to a new Facebook page and the creation of this website many more volunteers came daily to help. Also in 2016 Summer Alive Program formed an official board of directors and Project Coffeehouse became the financial sponsor. With the 501-c-3 status, Project CoffeeHouse qualified Summer Alive for many more grant opportunities.
These generous contributions allowed the formation of a Commercial Art and Music curriculum for children 12 and up in 2017.
It also allowed LuAnn and Tina to have paid staff positions for 2017, as the Program Director, and Art & Music Coordinator, (respectively), after years of volunteering everyday with no reimbursement.