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Felician Sisters envision $250K to keep, expand programs to help Moon youths

| Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Sister Rene Procopio (right), founder and executive director of the Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs, gives a tour of the community center on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 to Ray and Michele Paulos of Moon, and Valerie Howard, dean of the Robert Morris nursing program, during a strategic planning event about the future of the Mooncrest programs.
Heidi Murrin | Trib Total Media
Sister Rene Procopio (right), founder and executive director of the Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs, gives a tour of the community center on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014 to Ray and Michele Paulos of Moon, and Valerie Howard, dean of the Robert Morris nursing program, during a strategic planning event about the future of the Mooncrest programs.

Mooncrest, a community in Moon built by the federal government to house workers supporting World War II efforts, has a proud history but modern problems.

A Beaver Falls-based religious order, the Felician Sisters of North America, hopes to expand the support it provides the community of about 700 people, which is struggling with the ravages of poverty and other problems.

“The most important thing is to get the financial commitment from the people in the (township) so that we can grow with the programs that we have here,” Sister René Procopio, executive director of Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs, said Wednesday after a news conference.

In 2002, the Felician Sisters began operating an after-school program in Mooncrest. Now that program is part of a ministry, the Mooncrest Neighborhood Program, at the Mooncrest Neighborhood Center that includes parenting classes and fitness sessions.

The program's plan for 2015 to 2020, developed by Robert Morris University's Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management, lists six goals, including holistic programming that addresses education, job training, health/wellness and religion.

Mooncrest resident Laverne Grant's 12-year-old daughter attends the after-school program, and her 15-year-old daughter completed the program. Grant, 50, said she appreciates the exposure that the program gave her daughters to horseback riding, fishing and other activities.

“The (Felician Sisters) are so loving,” said Grant, a single, working mom.

The Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs operates on an annual budget of $90,000 to $100,000, but that needs to increase to $150,000 to maintain current programming. An annual budget of $250,000 would be needed to incorporate the plan, Procopio said.

Mooncrest Neighborhood Programs is funded mostly by charitable organizations, as well by the Felician Sisters and Chicago-based Felician Services Inc., Procopio said.

“With very slender resources, they have created a place of light and hope and love for children,” said Peggy Morrison Outon, executive director of the Bayer Center.

Tory N. Parrish is a Trib Total Media staff writer.

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