Sharon Sheridan reports at Episcopal News Service on summer programs that make a difference in kids lives:
Spearheaded by St. Stephen’s, an Episcopal mission church in Boston, B-SAFE partners with 52 Episcopal churches and about 1,000 volunteers to provide lunches, field trips and other assistance. The summer program complements a year-round after-school enrichment program for students that includes leadership training and college and career mentoring for teens. Funding comes from the diocese, donors and foundation grants. A city jobs program refers most of the teens who form the summer staff; many attended the enrichment programs themselves.
The children and teens come from the neighborhoods around the program sites – mostly Episcopal churches – and reflect those neighborhoods: often living in public housing in families receiving public services, attending underperforming public schools, sometimes coming from foster homes or involved with the court system, said the Rev. Liz Steinhauser, St. Stephen’s priest associate and director of youth programs. They represent varied cultural and religious backgrounds. “The majority of the kids that we’re working with would not have a summer program to go to” without B-SAFE, Steinhauser said.
The Boston program is among Episcopal initiatives, many of them at diocesan camps, spanning the country that offer summer fun and enrichment to youngsters who might be unable to afford them otherwise. Some provide general scholarship aid; others target particular populations, such as children with incarcerated parents.
While the Massachusetts program is a day- and after-school enterprise, except for a four-day camp trip for 120 of the oldest participants, some programs offer children in need a week away at an Episcopal camp.
What is your diocese offering for kids at risk?