Local schools and churches have played an important role as community centres for the town of Leaside practically since Day 1.
Our community is blessed with excellent choices for local activities, such as Leaside Memorial Community Gardens (for skating and swimming) and Trace Manes (hosting the Leaside Tennis Club and offering some small meeting rooms). But, in recent years, the reduction in funding for schools has meant they need to charge significant rental fees to outside organizations wishing to use their space. Now local organizations need to go elsewhere for all-important space.
Enter churches! Leaside’s local churches have their regular Sunday worship schedules and at least some church-related meetings or services during the week. But all are looking at how to be more relevant at a time when many of us have no current church connections. (Full disclosure: I attend St. Cuthbert’s.) As well, they are under the financial gun, so these spaces are not usually free, but more affordable than similar commercial space.
Looking for a nursery school? Montessori at Northlea United, Mrs. Parks at Leaside United, Children’s Garden School at Leaside Presbyterian and Children’s Garden Nursery School at St. Augustine are all available. Scouting and Guiding are in our churches too – Guides at St. Augustine, Girl Guides and all levels of Scouting at St. Cuthbert’s, Sparks for girls, and all levels of Scouting at Leaside Presbyterian.
There is a Parkinson’s Support Group meeting regularly at Leaside Presbyterian, and Alcoholics Anonymous meets weekly on Thursday evenings at St. Cuthbert’s.
Exercise classes of various types – pilates, tai-chi, gentle yoga, etc. for adults/seniors run regularly at all of our churches. Similarly, dance and music classes for toddlers and children are on offer. Specific programming for girls only is offered at Leaside United and St. Cuthbert’s.
At St. Augustine, there is the monthly Friday night “The Groove House” coffee house, with entertainment and refreshments – open to all. Northlea United held a monthly weeknight Taizé service over the winter, quiet but musical and meditative. Also at Northlea United, there is Karen’s Cupboard, which offers loans of various assistive devices.
Want to learn to quilt? Every Tuesday morning from September to June, there are people working together at St. Cuthbert’s on a large quilt, but you can bring an individual project too, or your own knitting or crocheting, and join in.
Many of you have heard of Blessing of the Animals services, usually held in the fall, related to St. Francis of Assisi. This past spring, both at Leaside United and at St. Augustine, there was a blessing service for bikes and other locomotion devices. Well, bless me!
Unless you attended the first meeting of the PROBUS Club at St. Cuthbert’s a year or so ago, you missed the boat on joining, because the demand for it was so great, their membership was filled at that first meeting. Stay tuned to see if they open another club locally.
Leaside Presbyterian, Leaside United, Northlea United, St. Anselm, St. Augustine and St. Cuthbert’s – all worth having a look, with a caveat – there is a major renovation project starting later this summer at Leaside United which may affect their specific programs in the short term.
Leaside’s churches – true community champions!