Passing along the positive: Cape Family Resource Center incorporating teen volunteers and piecing together funding

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Jasmine Beard chases Ja'myn Nabors as Nabors races to the sideline for safety as their friends cheer from the sideline Tuesday at the Family Resource Center in Cape Girardeau. (Laura Simon)

Ka'Vandre Moore, 13, always looked up to the older children at Cape Area Family Resource Center. Now, he said he wants to return the favor for the younger children who attend the center on South Sprigg Street.

"I wanted to help people too," said Moore, who will be in eighth grade at Central Junior High School.

A junior helper at the center's annual summer camp, Moore said he is proud of his influence on the younger campers. Moore said he started going to the center in fifth grade. The more the older children keep attending, the more comfortable the younger children will be. They will continue participating in the center's programs and open up about their problems, he said.

Moore said he also wants to pass along a positive attitude.

"If you got a bad attitude, you're going to miss out on a lot of things in life," he said.

Center director Pat King said she incorporated the younger teenage volunteers into the camp program for the first time this year. The camp, which started Monday, serves children in kindergarten through sixth grade. About six campers of junior high school age stuck around this year to help run the program, she said.

"I'm so impressed and so amazed," she said.

About 45 children attend the camp. They receive tutoring, do art projects and participate in physical activities. Tuesday, campers heard presentations on bike and fireworks safety.

"Not only are they having fun, but they're also learning," King said. She said the activities are structured around preventing the summer slide some students experience after leaving school for three months.

As the center deals with financial problems stemming from the loss of a grant, programs like the summer camp are more difficult to provide.

Because of the center's financial uncertainty, King said she is piecing together funding as it comes. A combination of grants from Ronald McDonald House and United Way of Southeast Missouri helped fund the six-week camp, she said. So far, the center's structured after-school program will continue for the coming school year.

The center has been operating, in part, on a three-year declining grant from the Missouri Department of Social Services. The $50,000 grant runs out at the end of this month as the center and its board of directors work to replace the money with grants and local funding.

King said she takes each day as it comes.

"At this point, we're still in desperate need of funding," she said.

She said the center is pursuing grants to make it handicapped-accessible, opening up the opportunity to apply for federal grants.

"We know this is going to be an everyday struggle," she said.

The summer camp goes from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The junior helpers said the beginning of the day, "harambe," is their favorite part. They do cheers, chants and act out stories as they read them.

"In Swahili, it means 'let's all pull together,'" Moore said of "harambe."

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

1202 S. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, MO

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