Saturday, September 27, 2008

Never lose faith!

For the last four months, our After-School Academy has been in limbo. With staff cutbacks and the upcoming demolition of Turner Courts, it has been challenging to figure out how to transition to a new program in Roseland TownHomes.

After growing a program for 8+ years, it's really hard to figure out how it all started and to replicate that. It's also hard because we and those around us expect us to start where we left off--with a full slate of 30 kids. On top of that, we have the challenge of figuring out how to restructure the program with less staff and uncertainty about a location.

We did start, though. The Central Dallas Church was gracious enough to allow us in their facility for as long as we needed. We are partnering with J.W. Ray (thanks to Ms. Brenda Powers, Community Liaison) and have two chess club rotations (thanks to Carmen Chairez, Minority Business Development Association)--20-25 kids in the first class and 8-10 kids in the second class! Jennifer Africawala (CDM Americorps program) helped me figure out how to have 3 Americorps members instead of two...and Kristina Williams, Andricka Lindsay, and Doris Thomas are absolutely wonderful!

Texas Capital Bank (Richard Mauldin) and United Central Bank (Cheryl Gilbert) provide finance classes for our elementary kids and we offer art classes through Theresa Cissell (another Americorps volunteer) and Catherine Hamrick (a Richland art major). And more people keep coming!

Sylvia Baylor has been amazing as she has been so willing to step in to coordinate the program in our transition. It is because of her, as well as the help of Marva Epperson-Brown, Danielle Evans, and Kim Johnson (other CDM staff), that we now have 26 kids enrolled and are growing every day! It is also because of Sylvia that we will now have a reading teacher from J.W. Ray Elementary volunteering with us once or twice a week!

There are more partnerships that I'll tell about in future posts. For now, we are off to a great start!