Camp Asks for City Funding
PBH Sponsored Program Needs $10,000
A Harvard-sponsored summer camp for local youths is attempting this week to convince the City of Cambridge to award funding to the program.
The Cambridge Youth Enrichment Program, which is part of Phillips Brooks House, is asking the city to allocate $10,000 to fund this year's program.
The camp provides educational, cultural, and recreational activities during the summer for 100 children from the Jefferson Park, Roosevelt Towers, and Newtown Court housing projects.
The summer camp initially submitted a proposal to the city's Department of Human Services for funding, but it was rejected. Van L. Truong '89, director of the program, then asked City Councillor Alfred E. Vellucci, a supporter of the program, for help.
Vellucci grew up in Roosevelt Towers and Truong described him as "an incredible supporter of children in low-income areas."
At Monday's City Council budget meeting, Vellucci brought up the program, even though it did not appear on the agenda. He told City Manager Robert W. Healy that the program was not properly funded.
Vellucci said at the council meeting that the camp will help solve the problem of youth gangs in the Central Square area by giving youth something to do. He also said that funding the program would be cheaper than hiring foot patrolmen for the area, which would cost $35,000 per patrolman.
Vellucci then asked Truong to stand up before the council, introduced Truong to Healy, and suggested that the two meet together and discuss the program.
These unconventional legislative maneuvers were used because there is only one more budget meeting before the summer and as a result time is running out for the group to get the money it needs, Truong said.
Truong said that he has been trying to get in touch with Healy to set up a meeting but has been unable to contact him.
Healy was not reached for comment.
Last year, the youth program was in a similar situation and used more dramatic tactics to obtain funding. Program organizers brought the parents of children who participated in the program to a City Council meeting to show the support the program has among those in the projects.
Truong said he is optimistic about getting the funding. But the sophomore said he once again may have to organize a group of parents to bring to the next council meeting if Healy has no yet been convince that the program needs money.
The youth program relies on the city for a substantial part of its funding, Truong said. Of the program's $45,000 budget, $10,000 normally comes from Cambridge, $10,000 in matching funds from Harvard, and the rest from private fundraising.
Counselors, of whom many are Harvard students, live in or near the projects and each is in charge of seven or eight children, said Greg A. Johnson '72, who is graduate secretary of PBH. The children attend educational classes in the morning, have a free lunch, then go on field trips in the afternoon. The field trips normally have an educational theme, Johnson said.
The summer camp "is a cost effective, culturally enriching program," Johnson said.