Catharine Downs works with the children and adolescents program at a community center in East Cambridge. She has lived in Cambridge in many contexts – from a high school student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin to a grad student at Harvard to a working professional in the community and member of CTK Cambridge – and realized it is possible to live here unaware of our neighbors, and to mostly interact with others we perceive as similar to us. “All of these experiences make me wish for more encounters between people in these different pockets of Cambridge. I hope we as the church, motivated by Jesus’s love for us and the city, will build relationships with others in the neighborhood and look for ways to bridge gaps,” Catharine said.
Catharine oversees program operations and works with a dynamic staff to provide enrichment activities and homework help for children ages 5-12. However, one of the aspects of her job that she likes most is the wide array of daily interruptions when working with kids and families. On any given day, Catharine may deal with angst-filled pre-teenage girls who just want to talk, a child who needs to be comforted and bandaged after an injury, or a single mom who is feeling alone and over-burdened in caring for her child's diverse needs.
For over 100 years, the people in East Cambridge and its surrounding neighborhoods have relied on services provided by the local community center that is dedicated to strengthening individuals and families. Every week they support hundreds of people through child and adolescent development, opportunities for learning for all ages, and providing various tangible needs.
Originally known as a Christian union, the community center was founded in the late 1800’s by bringing together various congregations across Cambridge to do charitable work for the benefit of neighborhood children. Prospect Street Congregational Church and its daughter churches were key in the founding of the community center. Coincidentally, they also previously owned the building where Christ the King Presbyterian Church (CTK) in Cambridge meets today.
There are meaningful ways for the CTK community to connect with youth and families through various volunteer opportunities. Currently, the center needs volunteers to help students with homework in the afternoons.
To learn more about how you can get involved, email Catharine Downs.