Making good happen
BY SAMANTHA ANDERSON
Holy Trinity Memorial Lutheran Church Pastor Brian Riedy recently received the Makes Good Happen Award from Commonwealth Prevention Alliance for region 2.
Riedy was nominated for the award by Denise Continenza, Penn State Extension educator and Communities That Care moderator. Riedy has been part of the Catasauqua CTC coalition since its formation in 2017 and has been pastor of Holy Trinity for six years.
“Brian has been a tireless advocate for children, youth and families in his community,” Continenza said. “He responds to needs by either mustering partners for support or connecting those who can assist.”
Continenza referred to Riedy as “the eyes and ears of our community,” thanks to his work with youth out in the community.
She said it was a “no-brainer” to nominate Riedy for the award. According to CPA, the Makes Good Happen Award is intended for “a local champion who is tireless in their efforts to improve the quality of life in their community or among a particular group of people.”
The organization continues to describe the Makes Good Happen recipient as someone thinking about ways to start and/or support new prevention programs, someone who brings others together for the good of the community and someone who gets things done.
During the review of the 2021 Pennsylvania Youth Survey, CTC members noted bullying was elevated among Catasauqua Middle School students. Riedy saw it as an opportunity to engage with the youth and sprung into action.
He, and members of Holy Trinity’s congregation, started an after-school snack program. With donations from the community and congregation, they set up a table with snack foods and Gatorade every day at Catasauqua’s park for students after school. It was noted many students walk down to the park before walking home or to wait for a ride home.
Riedy’s hope was to use the time to connect with students, remind them that the community cares about them and possibly lend a peaceful presence. He made it clear he was not there to parent the students, but just to lend a presence to hopefully encourage more respectful behavior.
“Although official data is not available, school counselors report there have been fewer bullying complaints,” Continenza noted. “Adult volunteers reported there is significantly less aggressive play at the park, and the youth express appreciation for the treats.”
In addition, the church, under Riedy’s leadership, hosts a weekly soup lunch for the community. He coordinated with state Rep. Jeanne McNeill, D-133rd, to get turkeys for families in need for the last two Thanksgiving holidays. The church also hosted a yard sale with items donated by the congregation, with all proceeds donated to the Public Library of Catasauqua. Other events organized by Riedy include a community egg hunt, puzzle night and taco Tuesday.
“Brian is passionate about youth being able to pursue their interest in music,” Continenza added, noting Riedy secured donations of $6,000 worth of music instruments for the CMS music program. The church is also helping host a summer music camp.
“Because of Pastor Brian’s leadership, his church members are also responsive to the needs of their community,” Continenza said. “Brian sets the pace for making good happen here!”
Nominees and award winners were recognized at an award ceremony May 12, during National Prevention Week.
Other members of Catasauqua CTC shared their congratulations and appreciation for Riedy’s efforts.
Amy Dymond Jones, CMS counselor and CTC moderator, said the award was well deserved and Riedy is “an amazing person who makes such a huge difference in the community.”
Donna Tercha, Catasauqua Area School District nurse, said Riedy deserved the award.
“It’s like it was named for you because you truly make good happen,” she said.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christina Lutz-Doemling echoed the sentiment.
“Thank you for all that you do to support our Catasauqua community,” she said. “We are so very grateful for all of your efforts.”
Riedy thanked everyone for their kind words and said he was moved by the nomination.