When I was in high school, I worked for the Montgomery Country Department of Recreation in Maryland. When I was a senior, I realized that I only needed three classes to graduate, so I ran the office in the afternoons, and when school let out, I coached.
I loved this job. My car was filled with fliers and sports equipment. I coached basketball, softball, flag football, and soccer to elementary and junior high school kids throughout the county. Many of the schools didn’t have after-school programs. I believe we charged their families a minimal amount to enroll their kids.
What sang out to me was how much the kids loved it, particularly those in junior high school when we played against other schools. I coached one group of girls from an underserved community who ended up winning the championship in 8th grade. Not sure who was more excited, me or them.
As I spend more time on the Fund for Public Housing’s board, I keep thinking about the Montgomery County Recreation Department, which still exists today. It was one of the top departments for after-school programs in the country. They service seniors, and kids, have camps (I was a counselor), and even offer trips and youth development. I have never understood why something like this isn’t available in NYC.
This is the kind of programs that I want to see in NYCHA funded by the Fund for Public Housing. These programs have a tremendous impact on the community and, most importantly, the kids who grow up there.