Saturday, July 20, 2002

She champions kids' success


Mary Wells' program urges best from children

By Tish Williams
Enquirer contributor

        LEBANON — Mary Wells doesn't think of herself as a “hero.” But children and parents who live in East Ridge, the Warren County Metropolitan Housing Commission development on Lebanon's northeast side, feel differently.

[photo] Mary Wells (center) is surrounded by (from left) Justine Romine, Linda Baysore, president of East Ridge Council, Chris Jones, Rodney Wheelen, Travis Rowe, Eric Davis, and Kathy Pena, vice president of the council.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        Ten years ago, Mrs. Wells founded Programs for East Ridge Kids, (PERK) a neighborhood group which encourages the best from children of all ages. Since then, the project has a become a full-time volunteer job.

        “In the beginning, I was working with Girl Scouts, and we met at the commission's headquarters,” she recalled. “Kids from the neighborhood were interested in our programs and they soon wanted to join.”

        Early scouting activities spawned development of a resident council with parents joining in for programs which involved not just kids but entire families.

        Programs now include everything from weekday study hours, special tutoring and homework help, field trips to parks and theaters, weekly library visits to quiet reading hours, times for educational games and other enrichment programs.

        Mrs. Wells, who lives in Oregonia, said emphasis is placed on success in school and Campfire programs which encourage self-reliance and good social skills.

        “We want every one of these children (there are more than 50 in the community) to grow up in control of their lives,” she said.

        “One of our most successful projects is our Back to School Fair which is always the second Saturday in August,” she said. “It's become a community event with kids from all over the area attending. We set up booths and have representatives from the Warren County Health Department, Head Start, Lebanon Board of Education, Scouting, Campfire International and other groups.

        “We offer free haircuts, pony rides, food, and every child goes home with a book bag filled with school supplies such as pencils, pens, calculators, papers, filing cards, notebooks, binders, scissors, glue, highlighters and more..”

        “ Linda Baysore, president of the Warren County Metropolitan Housing commission Resident Council, has worked with Mrs. Wells for 10 years. “Mary is unbelievable,” she said. “She never stops, but somehow still has time for every child. She's kid-driven. She wants them all to have a fair shake in life.”

        If your neighborhood is interested in a similar program, Mrs. Wells says all are welcome under the commission umbrella.

        For information, call the Warren County Metropolitan Housing Commission at 695-1226 .

        Do you know a Hometown Hero — someone in your community dedicated to making it a better place to live and helping others? E-mail Janet Wetzel at jjwetzelsiscom.net or fax to 513-755-4150.

       



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