THANKFUL FOR TOWN’S HELP
To the Editor:
As a native resident of Winthrop and the Executive Director of 34 years of the local nonprofit For Kids Only Afterschool (FKO), I am a firm believer in the positive impact of afterschool and summer programs.
I am also a participant of the CASA Youth Providers Network as I appreciate the tremendous value of the out-of-school time providers in our community. Today – more than ever before – parents, schools, and communities also recognize the importance of these programs.
This was apparent to me last month when FKO reached our maximum licensed enrollment capacity for the 2017 summer program and families added their names to a lengthy waiting list. Without more space at our Winthrop Center facility, many of our Winthrop K-5 students, who attend FKO during the school year, were unable to continue in the summer.
While all students on the waitlist could benefit from summer enrichment programs, many of the children rely on the support of state vouchers or subsidies due to family hardships (e.g. low-household income, single parent families, exposure to trauma, foster children), and must be enrolled in programs year-round or risk losing their eligibility for state assistance or scholarships.
FKO explored many options to expand its program, but with short notice there were no affordable solutions. So, we reached out to the community and the town of Winthrop began to help secure the needed program space for all children on the waitlist.
Winthrop leaders came together to formulate a plan that answered the pleas of many local families who needed access. I would like to recognize the many public and community partners that made this happen, most especially: Jim McKenna, Winthrop Town Manager; Russ Sanford, Winthrop Town Council President; Tanji Cifuni, Winthrop Community Development & Project Manager; Joe Domelowicz, Winthrop Economic Development & Grants; School Committee Member Ronald Vecchia and his wife Linda Vecchia, John Macero, WPS Superintendent, Robert Repucci, CAPIC Executive Director; and Joanne Stone-Libon, Winthrop Head Start Director.
Brainstorming, commitment, and collaboration resulted in FKO securing space at the EB Newton School using a CAPIC classroom. Head Start operates out of this space during the school year, but does not run summer programming and CAPIC generously agreed to let FKO rent their space for the months of July and August. Because of this collaboration, no FKO child will be left home alone during the summer months. Instead, they will have the opportunity to participate in 9 weeks of full-day enrichment programming, full of fun summer learning, exciting field trips, and lots of time to socialize and make new friends!
On behalf of FKO, I am very grateful for the Town’s community spirit.
Deborah Kneeland Keegan
For Kids Only