Funds Needed to Continue Project HOPE



Project HOPE at the Lincoln School in Lamar is seeking new funding to continue operations for area youngsters when its four year Juvenile Assistant Grant runs out next September.  “Each of the four years has less money allocated than the year before,” said Lori Hammer, the only full time employee at Project HOPE.  As its director, she coordinates activities among the other parttime employees, volunteers and children, as many as 127 a day who rely on the Teen Center for after school activities and some meals. 

Hammer said new sources of funding are required at this point, ”The JAG funding cannot be renewed, so we need to develop new sources for continued funding, at least $80,000 to $90,000 a year to cover all expenses, from salaries to office supplies to materials for the students that aren’t donated by the community.  “We’re in the process of applying for our non-profit 501C-3 status which should help, as well as creating a Master Plan of operations which will also be presented when we apply for future grants,” she explained. 

Hammer and Anita Zavala, a part time employee, said the basis on the JAG funding was to develop a broad-based prevention and substance abuse program for the students who are between 10 to 16 years old on average.  Zavala said, “We got busy in the first quarter with about 135 to 145 students coming to us after school each day.”  Hammer added that the numbers have fallen off to about 125 to 130 at this point, but it still makes for a full day of activities.  “We’re open from 4pm to 8pm Monday through Thursday and on Friday we have two sessions, 8am to 11am is for activities and from 1pm to 4pm is homework,” she explained.  Some activities are seasonal such as constructing working model rockets using plastic tubing and two liter soda bottles and some household chemicals.  Others include working with clay, digital artwork, yo-yo instruction, cooking and crocheting.    

“We’re going into our second year for the neighborhood garden, “Hammer said, explaining one of the more ambitious projects the students have undertaken.  The city and county provided some infrastructure and Susan Hanson has worked to educate the kids on the basics of starting and maintaining a vegetable garden.  A new batch of seedlings will soon be set to provide the second year’s growth in the garden, just north of the school on North 10th Street.  Hammer said it became a neighborhood project, “People on all sides of us took an interest in what the students were doing and volunteered to help water the garden.”  Kids took home vegetables they had grown and some produce was consumed at the school as part of the cooking program. 

“One project that’s been ongoing is the ESL classes that will resume in January,” Hammer said.  “Esparanza Jaime teaches three classes a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we’ve seen continued interest in those lessons.”  High Plains Community Health Center and Prowers Medical Center also offers assistance, from classes on family nutrition to contributing $100 a month for snacks. 

Hammer said the community’s support has been instrumental in maintaining the core project for the past eight years.  “Charlie Ferris and Eagle Scout volunteers have worked with the students in cleaning up our playground, Cindy Vigil is holding a seminar on drug prevention, Angel Madrid is working with students on the Why Try Program, Gary Hammer and Connie Jacobsen is working on our non-profit status, Karen Vopel and the Spirit Foundation continue to assist us as well as students from the National Honor Society and LCC Softball players,” Hammer added. 

She said if there were sufficient funds in the future, she’d add more instructors for the students, and she and the volunteers have assured the kids that Project HOPE will be there for them in the future.  At present they have until the end of September, but hope to have word on future funding before that end date.  Hammer said their second chili supper is planned for January 30 and hopes the community and families will come out for the activities that night.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessCollegecommunityCountyEducationFeaturedLamarRecreationSchoolYouth


About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.