Tutor Lexi McDermid works with a child at the former site of Community Learning Workshop.

Community Learning Workshop's interior, after the April 9 fire.

An April 9 fire that destroyed the building that housed favorite Clarion eatery Bob’s Sub has also left an important community resource – PennWest Clarion’s Community Learning Workshop – without a home.

English professors Dr. Leah Chambers and Dr. Rich Lane founded CLW in fall 2013 to provide free educational support programs for learners of all ages after they recognized the need for such a place in the community.

Chambers said this spring, CLW has served 10-15 students each day – about 30 different children each week – at the Main Street, Clarion, location, and another 12 students at St. Joseph Church in Lucinda, where tutors travel each Monday.

In addition to tutoring and homework help, CLW has hosted events such as the March 29 Women’s History Month celebration, where kids of all ages were invited to take part in games, crafts and activities that helped them learn about famous women in history. CLW also partners with Riverview Intermediate Unit 6 in working with adult learners.

Several local churches have reached out to Chambers and Lane to offer temporary space for CLW.

“Thanks to the kindness of Pastor Jason Hunter, we will finish out the spring 2023 semester in the Fellowship Hall in the basement of First Baptist on Main Street, next to McDonald’s,” CLW’s Facebook page announced Tuesday.

They will reopen Monday with the regular hours of 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Patrons can use the side entrance that faces McDonald’s, where a sign will be placed.

The semester will conclude with a science-themed family fun night, “May the 4th Be with You,” in PennWest Clarion’s Science and Technology Center. This event is being organized by 17 students in Clarion’s Applied Literacy Studies class, who also serve two hours each week at the CLW.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has reached out to us during this difficult time,” the Facebook post said. “This is what community is all about.”

Chambers said they will need a new, permanent space for fall 2023. Initial estimates are that about $75,000 in furniture, educational materials, office supplies and electronics were lost.

PennWest Clarion has established a crowdfunding platform for CLW. To donate, click here.

In addition to being a valuable community resource, CLW has been a place where PennWest Clarion students have acquired hands-on experience. This spring, 15 students, including secondary education, integrative studies, communications, sociology and speech pathology majors, are employed by the workshop.