03/16/04 — Block grant hearing held

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Block grant hearing held

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on March 16, 2004 1:59 PM

Several community nonprofit groups, from a soup kitchen to several after-school programs, are hoping the Goldsboro City Council will give them part of a federal grant to help low-income residents.

The city will receive about $800,000 from the community development block grant program, which was the subject of a public hearing Monday at City Hall. The program is designed to rehabilitate rundown areas and help people who have low to moderate incomes.

The city received from the Soup Kitchen, after-school programs and a parent concerned about security for children.

Julian B. Baker, representing the Community Soup Kitchen at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, said the kitchen has operated for 24 years, feeding the most vulnerable citizens of the community.

On average, the soup kitchen feeds more than 100 men, women and children every day, six days a week. Baker said the soup kitchen had conducted a survey several years ago and found that it needed to expand.

In 2003 the foundation of Temple Oheb Sholem offered the fellowship hall of the Temple to the Soup Kitchen. An agreement was made to lease the property at a nominal fee, and a cooperative plan was put in place to renovate the exterior and remodel the interior for the soup kitchen.

"But that endeavor is not without cost," Baker said, "even though the Temple Foundation has contributed heavily. Anyway you could be of service, please consider us in this plan."

Gene Thomas, director of the Goldsboro Housing Authority, spoke in support of the Lincoln Community Center After School program.

"This program is partially funded by the block grant," Thomas said. "We couldn't function without it."

The Lincoln After School program has 58 students, ranging in age from 6 to 18.

"Our main focus is homework, and teaching comprehensive studying skills," Thomas said. "Last year we had 15 kids in the third and fourth grades, and all passed the end of grade tests. The program is working."

Howard Scott, from the Cooperative Extensive Service, said that studies showed that students in after-school programs had lower truancy rates.

The Cooperative Extension Service has three after-school programs, with a total of 150 young people enrolled.

"I feel that we're making a significant impact," Scott said.

Mary Ann Dudley spoke on behalf of the Boys & Girls Club. Ms. Dudley said that many people were familiar with the club's athletic programs, but didn't know about the after-school programs.

"We need your full and continued support," Ms. Dudley said. "We work on homework, but also other things, such as character, leadership, health and life skills."

Gloria Chance, a representative from the food and nutrition department of the USDA, said that there were programs available that would provide free food to Wayne County children during the summer. "Wayne County is one of our target counties because 49 percent of children in the schools have reduced or free lunch," she said.

Donald McCullough, a parent and volunteer teacher at Carver Heights Elementary School, asked that some of the money be put aside for security concerns.

"The children want to go to these after-school programs, and the centers are good for them," he said. "But there's a real problem with security in the streets. Parents can't pick them up, and the kids are afraid to walk home alone."

Councilman Chuck Allen asked City Manager Richard Slozak to set up a special workshop so the council could review the requests and see what the limitations and guidelines of the grant were.

Slozak said he would set up a meeting.