Friday, July 20, 2001

Forum seeks youth programs




By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Residents of East Covington want more activities for youths.

        That was one of the key messages Thursday night at the first of two United Way forums to identify the neighborhood's top needs in the areas of health, social services, education and community development.

        Youth involvement in everything from leadership to self-esteem programs to exposure to the arts was one of the top needs identified by the 30 participants at Thursday's forum.

        Other pressing needs identified Thursday include strong community development with the help of a resident-led organization, leadership opportunities for residents, establishment of a children's advocate in schools for youths who find themselves in trouble, more job training, after-school programs for at risk children, and more extensive and better-coordinated health services.

COVINGTON FORUM
   • Why: To decide how United Way funds should be spent in East Covington.
   • When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.     • Where: United Community Christian Church, 1710 Maryland Ave.
   • Area served: The United Way is identifying the area from Eighth Street to 20th Street and from Madison Avenue to the Licking River.
   • Provided: Light snacks and free child care.
        Longtime East Covington resident Ted Harris said the initial forum reflected what volunteers are finding in their ongoing survey of the community — a need for more constructive activities for neighborhood youths.

        “These kids are standing around on the corners,” Mr. Harris said, as he chatted outside the St. James AME Church on Thursday night. “They have nothing to do and nowhere to go. We need to address that.”

        In May, the United Way announced it would no longer fund the Northern Kentucky Community Center, a private nonprofit agency in the heart of Covington's African-American community. In cutting nearly half the center's budget, the charity cited management concerns and the center's inability to show what it had accomplished with United Way-funded programs.

        The $171,167 that would have gone to the community center has been set aside for use in East Covington by other nonprofit agencies.

        While pleased with the turnout and the range of suggestions expressed Thursday in a church hall that lacked air conditioning, some East Covington supporters said many of the needs echoed what's been said before.

        “We've identified these things over and over again,” Ms. Fann said. “Talking about problems and solving them is two different things.”

        She added that the neighborhood suffers from too many factions and a lack of knowledge about existing resources.

        “I'm very happy with all the ideas, but I would like to know how they're going to implement the programs, where they will do them, and how they'll decide who gets the money,” said Malvina Sheffield, a Covington resident and former employee of the Northern Kentucky Community Center.

        No matter what services ultimately are offered, there needs to be more of an effort by local providers to increase community participation, whether through marketing or other means, said Sister Janet Bucher, CDP.

        “You can have all the programs in the world, but how do you get those people who need them to attend?” she asked.

        Recommendations from the two forums will be combined with the results of written surveys. A committee of residents and community leaders is going door to door asking residents to identify the neighborhood's most pressing needs. Agencies also are being surveyed on services they provide.

        Once the community's most pressing needs are identified, a subcommittee will help United Way develop requests for proposals. The United Way will then solicit proposals from professional service providers in mid-August and announce providers a month later.

       



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