New non-profit organization hosts Outdoor Movie Nights and other events –
By Patricia Beech –
The proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is more than just a cliche to Michael Reno and Carly Patterson, two single working parents from Manchester. They are the driving force behind a new, non-profit organization called ROCK (Rebuilding our Community with Kindness) and they are dedicated to making a difference in their community.
“ROCK was created out of necessity,” says Reno, the father of three boys. “Manchester has very little for our children to do throughout summer break. This leads to boredom and bad decision making. We at ROCK see that void and are working to fill it.”
Reno believes ROCK’s mission to get parents and their children involved in fun physical activities will better their lives and in turn better the whole community. “We’re trying to get the kids back out in the park, and get our elders back out into the community interacting with kids, kind of like the way it was when I grew up,” he says. “These kids are our future, and we need to get together and make a difference for them.”
Reno and Patterson met by chance in the town’s park where each frequently went to spend time with their children.
“We exchanged numbers, and Carly would call and say they were going to the park, so I’d take my boys down, and then other friends started joining us with their kids,” Reno said. “We’re all very active with our own kids, we don’t just sit back and watch them play, we do things with them.
According to Reno, it wasn’t long before other neighborhood children began to show up and join in the fun. “Anytime I went to the park I’d take four or five bicycles, some scooters and footballs, and kids just started popping up when they saw my vehicle.”
“The kids would all be excited when Mike showed up,” says Patterson. “He’s an outgoing person and gets everyone involved.”
Reno, who is a self-employed mechanic, and Patterson, a recent college graduate, began throwing around the idea of expanding their activities in the park by forming an organization that would do something big and get everyone involved. “We chose the name ROCK – Rebuilding Our Community with Kindness, because that’s exactly what we’re about, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” said Reno.
Sixty-four children participated in ROCK’s inaugural event. “We provided challenging, interactive, and fun games, and the day ended with an epic water balloon fight,” Reno said. Every child received drinks, snacks and a grab bag that included small party favors, candy, and cookies.
Approximately 100 people attended ROCK’s second event, a Memorial Weekend Picnic for adults and children, which included not only lunch and fun activities, but also a balloon release with “Letters to Heaven” to give children the opportunity to connect with their deceased loved ones. The Manchester Fire Department provided a grill and prepared the food. They also allowed the children to climb onto one of their fire trucks, before spraying over 1,500 gallons of water to cool the kids off. “We finished the day by giving away the items we used for our games and every child received a prize,” said Reno.
On Friday, June 17, ROCK hosted its third event, Outdoor Family Movie Night, at Nathaniel Massie Park in Manchester.
“We had over 200 people show up to participate in activities and watch the movie,” said Patterson, who attended the event with her two daughters and younger sister. “It was a great way to kick off the summer.”
The event was sponsored by the Adams County Sheriff’s Department and Junior Deputy Program. Sheriff Kimmy Rogers and several deputies, as well as local EMT’s and firefighters, provided grilling equipment and served food to those attending. Hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones, cookies and a variety of beverages were provided free of charge for children and made available to adults for a donation.
“We gave away over 40 prizes to the children, and over 200 glow sticks,” said Reno. “We’ll continue to have movies in the park every Friday night.”
This week’s movie, Inside Out, is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.
Manchester Village Council member, C.L. “Skip” Wagner said, “This is a great thing for our kids, they get free entertainment in a safe environment, with police protection, and the parents can relax a little and enjoy themselves as well. It’s a great thing for the people here in Manchester, and we’re going to do everything we can to help Mr. Reno make this event happen every week throughout the summer.”
All of the ROCK events were funded by the organization’s members and private donors.
Reno and Patterson say that while people in the Manchester area have been generous with their donations, they are also planning fund raisers to keep ROCK viable. On Saturday, July 9, they will host two separate events. An eight-hour, three-county Jeep and Motorcycle Ride beginning at 11 a.m. in Manchester will coincide with a Midsummer Field Day event at Nathaniel Massie Park featuring a variety of games including Slip ‘n’ Slide kickball, 3-on-3 basketball, soccer matches and much more. There will also be stations set up for smaller children including rock painting, face painting, crafting, and more. Food and drinks will be available.
That evening the Jeeps and motorcycles will be on display for the children to view until the start of the family movie at approximately 9 p.m. Anyone interested in participating in the Jeep and Motorcycle Ride, or setting up their own activity, or volunteering their time should contact Mike Reno @ 740-703-5976.
Additionally, ROCK will host a quarter auction on July 16 in the Manchester Community Building at 400 Pike Street. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the auction starts at 7 p.m. Dinner will be served before the auction begins.
“ROCK focuses on the children, but we are so much more,” says Reno. “We volunteer our time wherever it’s needed. We’ve participated in the Manchester Street Sweep, River Sweep, and we regularly pick up litter in the park. We’ve cut up and hauled off fallen limbs after storms, we’ve helped clean up and haul off trash from yards belonging to people physically unable to do so, and as our group grows so will our ability to do more in the community.”
Wagner praised Reno and Patterson for their work. “On behalf of myself and the council, I can’t thank them enough for taking the time and energy to get ROCK off the ground,” he said. “It’s an organization that can make a real change in our town.”