PERTH AMBOY—The staff of the Jewish Renaissance Foundation and Boys & Girl Clubs of Perth Amboy have made the extraordinary commitment of continuing working at club sites without pay in the face of state cutbacks to the New Jersey After 3 program.
“We have been given only three weeks to address this substantial and sudden funding extraction,” said Alexandra Cross-Mansonet, JRF’s chief executive officer. “Without our staff making this incredible commitment, this cutback would have resulted in an interruption of services; or worse yet, a full termination of operations for the balance of this school year”.
New Jersey After 3 funding pays for after school programming and services for nearly 300 children at the William C. McGinnis and Samuel E. Shull middle schools in Perth Amboy. Statewide, the program operates in about 30 municipalities.
When Gov. Chris Christie outlined a series of state budget reductions last month, he proposed the elimination of $5.2 million due to the New Jersey After 3 during the current budget year. The vast majority of New Jersey After 3’s network of after school programs will be forced to close this month, putting almost 13,000 kids out of programs in the middle of the school year, if the cut stands. More than 1,000 full and part time jobs would also be eliminated.
“The mission of JRF and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Perth Amboy is directly consistent with my own convictions,” said Farleen Jones, site coordinator of the McGinnis Club. “This is why I am willing to expend my own personal time to ensure that every single one of our kids continues to receive the valuable and important services we provide every day”.
“We know that, if we suspend operations or worse yet, close our doors, our many working parents will have the agonizing choice between leaving their child unsupervised after school or continuing to work fulltime jobs,” said Jessica Santiago, a member of the McGinnis Club staff, who also happens to be a parent of one of the club members. “Just like many of my fellow colleagues here, we do not want to have our parents to make that difficult choice”.
Jones and Santiago are among many staffers who will continue to work without pay to ensure club services and activities continue without interruption. “We always talk about the high quality, professionalism, and experience of our staff,” said Yvonne Lopez, chairperson of BGCPA’s Board of Trustees. “In this time of urgency, we also continue to sec their high character and compassion for young people and this community”.
“As a member of the McGinnis Club, I feel a sense of belonging,” said Justin Zayas, a ten-year old member. “It’s like a small community where we get together and work together to do better in school and in the community”.
“Irrespective of what occurs with thus funding, our dedicated corps of staff coupled with our committed parents and youth has re-energized our Board, management, and our donors to substantially step up our fundraising and advocacy efforts to sustain and expand the services we provide for our youth and families”, said Lopez.
As a reflection of Lopez’s comments the Boards of JRF and BGCPA raised over $10,000 in just over one week to sustain the operations at the two clubs However, more funding will be required to keep the clubs open and active, even with many staff members volunteering their time.
Contributions can be made payable to “Boys & Girls Clubs of Perth Amboy”, and sent to the attention of Jorge Cruz, Chief Professional Officer, BGCPA, 149 Kearny Avenue, Perth Amboy, NJ 08861. All contributions are fully tax deductible as allowed by state and federal law.
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