Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dan DeWitt: Making room for kids is imperative

Separately, either one of these programs for kids in Brooksville would be great.

Put them together, though, and it turned into a bit of a mess.

The Hernando County Family YMCA has a summer camp for kids at the Jerome Brown Community Center this year.

At last, this organization, which has done so much for the west side of the county, has a presence on the east side. It's especially welcome because it offers scholarships for children whose families need the help. And in Brooksville, lots of families need help.

The second program is run by an organization, Building a Foundation Through a Product of My Environment, with a mission that is a lot clearer than its name. It reaches out to kids, most of them from needy and/or single-parent households. And for most of the past nine months, it has run the Sunday open gym at Jerome Brown at the city's Tom Varn Park.

As you may have guessed, that location is the problem. On Friday when I visited, one of the YMCA child care specialists showed me all the stations for different activities — art, music, reading, math, all sorts of games. That means lots of desks, chairs, mats, books and toys.

Packing it up at the end of the week and breaking it out again in time to open up for kids at 6:30 a.m. Monday is impractical. At least that's what city parks and recreation director Mike Walker told Reiko Brown, Building a Foundation co-founder, when she departed for the group's weekend camp at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort in early June.

Walker said Brown was supposed to get back with him to discuss options after she returned. She doesn't remember that — just a followup email saying the open gym would have to be canceled, at least for the summer.

The timing was bad, she said, because summer is when the indoor gym is needed most and because the Fort Wilderness trip attracted more than 20 kids, many of whom had their hearts set on open gym. And this, I should add, is more than basketball. It's also table games, such as foosball. One regular plays piano. Brown holds "rap sessions." Not counseling, exactly. Just a way for children and teenagers to talk about their worries.

She and Angela Gilbert, the other founder, had also found some volunteers to fill in on Sundays when they couldn't make it.

This isn't easy, as I found out when I ran the open gym as a lone volunteer starting last summer. By the end of the fall, I was ready to shut the door on the whole thing, despite consistently good turnouts, because nobody seemed willing to help.

Brown and Gilbert stepped up to rescue me and the program. So I'm not exactly impartial when it comes to Building a Foundation. Nor when it comes to the Y, having conducted my interview with the chairwoman of the board — my wife, Laura — on our living room couch.

Her reaction? There's got to be a way. And on Friday, it seemed, there was. The Y camp will move all its furniture, games and books to one side of the basketball court on Fridays, leaving it open for half-court games on Sundays.

With a little more communication, a mess is resolved.

And here's what's really great. For too long, there were almost no programs available for children at Jerome Brown. Now, the biggest problem is too many.

Dan DeWitt: Making room for kids is imperative 07/07/12 [Last modified: Saturday, July 7, 2012 10:41am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger

    Blogs

    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season

    College

    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium

    Blogs

    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32 (left), was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with boss Larry McCabe when he saw three men …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH

    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company

    College

    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.