The St. John’s UCC Reading Fund of Berks County Community Foundation has awarded three grants totaling $12,700 to programs at three organizations in Reading that are helping those in need.
St. John’s United Church of Christ, which was located at 149 S. Ninth St. in Reading, established the charitable fund with the Community Foundation in 2020 as part of the church’s process to cease operations.
This year’s grants were the first-ever awarded by the fund, which will annually award grants to support organizations, programs, or initiatives that do one or more of the following: reduce hunger; meet a pressing need for youth; offer shelter or improve housing; or create or maintain open space. Distributions from the fund are made with a preference for organizations, programs, or initiatives that are closer in proximity to the former church’s location.
This year’s recipients, grant amounts, and programs supported:
The Salvation Army of Reading: $6,000 for the Rental Assistance Program, which enables community members to remain in their homes and reduce the level of eviction and homelessness.
Olivet Boys & Girls Club of Reading and Berks County: $4,000 for Olivet Hubs of Hope, which provides hygiene packs, clothing, shoes, backpacks, bed sets, grocery gift cards, and mental health counseling to youth who have lost a parent or guardian.
Clare of Assisi House: $2,700 for the Transitional Supports for Re-Entry (TSRE) Bridge Program, which provides case management and support, including financial and transportation assistance, to reduce recidivism and enable female ex-offenders to sustain their independent living.
St. John’s was founded in 1871 as St. John’s Reformed Church of Reading.
In 2017, a majority of its remaining members voted to dissolve St. John’s United Church of Christ as a legal entity.
In 2019, the church filed with Berks County Court to transfer much of its assets to the Community Foundation and to give its building and some assets to Open Door Mennonite Church, Lancaster County, to establish the South 9th Street Mennonite Church in the building.
In 2020, the St. John’s UCC Reading Fund of Berks County Community Foundation was created to continue the church’s mission.