Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hopeworks 'N Camden: Bringing Hope to Camden, NJ

The summer season brings all sorts of changes to the city including neighbors spending more time outside, water ice, swimming, and school is out.  Unfortunately, the summer season has become associated with youth causing more trouble in the neighborhood.  A recent phenomenon in Philadelphia has been youth forming flash mobs via internet organizing or spontaneity.  On the news last night, the first report was about three flash mobs that had formed over the weekend throughout the city.  One of those mobs was at a Sears on 69th Street in Upper Darby, just a few blocks from where I used to live.  Increases in youth violence during the summer are a common complaint among neighborhoods, and I have even been a part of the complaining at times.  One of the reporter’s comments that really hit home with me was, “Where is the adult supervision?”  With decreases in government funding to youth programs, is has become more difficult for parents to insure supervision of their children through the summer months, but there are programs that offer hope for even these parents.

In New Jersey, Hopeworks N’ Camden has been providing youth programming and positive supervision for over 10 years.  By offering after school, summer and even residential programming, Hopeworks seeks to “empower youth to identify and develop their DREAMS (Dynamic, Realizable Efforts to Attain and Maintain Success) and own their future.” Often youth spend the summer months letting their minds be numbed by Television and the internet or endangering their futures by acting out, but Hopeworks provides an excellent opportunity for youth to engage their minds and give themselves a great head start on their futures.  Hopeworks’ mission is to: Expand learning opportunities available to youth and work together with youth to create their future. The heart of the program is technology training, which is provided in a safe, respectful and celebratory atmosphere. Technology training includes website design, geographic information services, computer networking and repair, and video. Hopeworks programs include Day Training, Hope through School, and CRIBS, an intentional community of young adults. 

Hopeworks was featured on local TV show, Perspective in New Jersey, and founder Father Jeff Putthoff along with two students influenced by Hopeworks shared about the organization and its impact on youth. Check out the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJaR6UY86tc&feature=youtu.be.  Father Jeff was greatly motivated to begin Hopeworks by his desire to help young people see their potential and gain access to positive learning opportunities.  Many young people are taught that they have no future, so it more likely for these youth to not concern themselves with the consequences of their actions.  Father Jeff and the other Hopeworks staff like Alania Cronkright (MA in Urban Studies graduate) provide young people with both the support and opportunity to buy into their future.  Young people need more caring adults in their lives like Father Jeff and Alania who willingly partner with parents to provide safe alternatives for youth during the summer and after school hours!  Is this your passion?  Let Eastern University's MA in Urban Studies with a concentration in Youth Leadership help you develop the knowledge and skills to impact youth in your community. 

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