Memory of teenager inspiring organization to help others

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NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. -- The memory of a teenager who drowned in the Susquehanna River, is inspiring people to help other teens in Cumberland County.

Two years after Medard Kowalski's death, people in new Cumberland hope to provide a safe place for teenagers in his name.

Community members in New Cumberland are providing teens with an environment to build healthy relationships with their peers and adults.  They call it Medard's House and on Oct. 21 organizers are having their grand opening at the West Shore Senior Center.

Saundra Collelo, Medard's House founder, said, "We're just really excited to start getting to know the kids in the community and to start helping them with their needs."

The organization is inspired by Kowalski, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 17.

Angela Fickes-Mountz, the director of operations in Ministry, said, "Medard was, I've met him a couple times, was an exceptional young man and he had a great way of liking everyone."

He was canoeing to Hoak Island to go deer hunting when he disappeared. Rescuers conducted searches but Kowalski's body was not found for three months.

Kowalski's father,  Medard Kowalski, Sr., said, "We saw something in the community. The amount of people that came out and helped was just incredible."

Now that same community is turning something tragic into something positive. Meals and activities will be provided for teens at the senior center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Building an actual house for the organization in New Cumberland is the next step.

Fickes-Mountz said, "The plan is to build a house where they can come and it's a safe place, it's a drug-free environment. And we'll offer different types of programs and different things for them to do."

Although organizers don't have the funds yet, they are hoping to raise enough money to be able to expand Medard's House.

Fickes-Mountz said, "What we're trying to do is just find a place that's an extension of their home where they can feel loved and they can feel welcomed and where they can be supported."

The grand opening of Medard's House will be the same day as the Cedar Cliff High School football game against Red Land High School. They plan to feed the football players after the game.