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Making a Difference: Woman cooking up meals and hope for children in Johnstown

Tina McGauley cooks for hours each day to make sure around 75 kids from Johnstown have something to eat. (WJAC)

A hot, nutritional meal is often something we can take for granted. Sadly, many children in Johnstown may not get that every day.

In this week’s making a difference, one woman is making sure kids who are living in poverty in the city never go hungry.

For Tina McGauley, most days start very early in the kitchen but she's not cooking for herself, she's using fresh ingredients to fight childhood hunger in Johnstown.

“I like making steak, grilled chicken for them, rigatoni,” said Tina McGauley who is the coordinator of the Destiny's Outreach Program at Jefferson Memorial First Born Church and is known as First Lady and Miss Mam.

She started the Destiny's Outreach Program at Jefferson Memorial First Born Church 11 years ago.

On weekdays, Tina whips up nutritional meals, which takes a few hours. Then she hits the road, picks up around 75 kids and brings them to the church on William Penn Avenue.

They enjoy activities and of course, a hot meal.

"I love to see them enjoy, enjoy the food,” Tina said. "I love to see them enjoy, enjoy the food. I know they're getting a nice, hot wholesome meal because sometimes this is the only meal some of them get."

Tina and her husband, Bishop Joseph McGauley who is the pastor at the church, not only provide this free summer program but an after school program too, where they help with homework and make sure the children's tummies are full.

“There’s a high rate of poverty here,” Bishop McGauley said. "We know the condition of the city, and the children are our future and we just want to plant the seed in their lives. It's just needed, so needed in the community."

The church is also a safe haven so kids can get away from areas where there's been crimes involving drugs and violence.

“It’s tragic when you hear those things, it hurts very bad,” said Bishop McGauley.

The McGauley’s changed Noah Cosby's life. He started going to the church 5 years ago when he was 11 and just moved from Philadelphia.

“I mean it does change a child, just knowing someone is there for you, someone that cares and takes time to listen to you.It shows that there is someone that cares for you even if it’s not at home,” Cosby said.

He's one of the countless kids they've helped through the years to become respectful and go down the right path.

“I do thank them. I love them so much, like my mom and dad. I love them, i really do,” Cosby said.

It's most rewarding for Tina when she sees them succeed.

“I feel so good, I am thanking God because my prayer for them is that they will be productive in a community. I thank God when I see they have grown up, graduated, doing something with their lives,” Tina said.

They want to build a community center near the church for the kids to enjoy recreational activities but they need the community’s help.

“We challenge the community, we challenge the children, let’s all come together,” Bishop McGauley.” We want to put in a child's mindset, this is not it, this is just the beginning of a great a future."

“We can come together as a community, not step on each other toes, and be there for the children and each other," Tina said.

Tina plans on using her secret ingredient to serve delicious food and hope for as long as she can.

The summer program is Monday through Thursday and ends August 17th.

The free after school and enrichment program starts in September for ages 4 through 18 and runs Monday through Friday.

They provide tutoring, fun activities, field trips, and classes for reading and spelling.

You can become a volunteer or donate by stopping at the church or just reach out to Bishop McGauley. The address is 325 William Penn Ave, Johnstown, PA and phone number is 814-536-3857.

You can also speak with him if you're interested in helping them get the community center which would be a gym and a place where kids can enjoy recreational activities.

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