Written by Jill Nossa Friday, 10 August 2012 00:00
On Wednesday, August 1, a group of prominent Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders, along with the young people, delivered petitions and artwork to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams and Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt. The petitions contained more than 3,500 names of local residents in favor of restoring funding and contracts for youth services agencies and programs.
The new organization, Nassau Fight for Youth and Families, was created by faith-based groups and concerned citizens to continue the effort to have county government leaders restore funding and support for youth programs.
Four children involved with the Glen Cove Youth Bureau’s programs marched in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola, then delivered their petitions to the county leaders.
Claudia Penate, 15, who is employed this summer by the youth bureau, said that if the funding was not available, she would not have the opportunity for employment next year, but even worse, younger children would suffer.
“Children need to get out and play instead of watching TV and eating unhealthy foods,” Penate said.
Fifteen-year-old Monica Salinas, also a part of the Summer Youth Employment Program, agreed with that sentiment, saying, “Kids would no longer have the opportunity to eat healthy foods or exercise, and without the employment opportunity, they wouldn’t see the value of working. I hope they work out the funding because the program is valuable to kids.”
Two members of the After 3 program, Nicolai Glauchkov, age 9, and Soraya Bahrami, 8, were both there hoping to prevent the program from being shut down.
“The program keeps us healthy and lets us learn,” said Bahrami. “They bring us on trips and we do lots of activities.”
The children crafted hundreds of paper dolls demonstrating the need for the program, which they delivered to Abrams’ office.
The county recently cancelled contracts and eliminated funding for many youth services and programs, some of which went into effect immediately.
Sister Evelyn Lamoureux, board chairperson for Gateway Youth Outreach, said, “I’m here because my program is going to go away because they took the money away. The families need these programs because they can’t afford childcare.”
She said that 800 children would be affected by the loss of her after-school and community service programs, and the summer program, which usually has about 250 kids participating, is not happening this year due to the lack of funds.
She added that the funding for her program worked by matching grant funds; but when no money comes from the county, there is no money to match.
“I’ve worked at this agency for 30 years and seen it grow into a wonderful program. But now…who knows?”