We are pretty well settled in our new home and loving it! The space is truly starting to feel like home though as the weather warms up, we do face the challenge of easily accessible green space to ensure the kids are getting enough fresh air but we walk in faith that green space will present itself. It’s been amazing to see so many new faces at Joyful Harvest, kids who did not realize there was a free place to go after school that they can walk to. As our regular volunteers have taken to saying, so many new kids are coming that it’s hard to keep up with everyone’s name! Truly a great problem to have!
However with our new space filled with new kids and planning for summer in full swing, we are faced with the uncomfortable truth that financial giving to Joyful is down. We strive to be wise stewards of the resources that we have, we offer year round programming that reaches hundreds every year (our numbers have grown for the past 3 years straight) on a budget of roughly $60,000 a year! We currently only employ 2 part time employees, our Executive Director who works 25 hours a week (and most weeks donates a minimum of 10 hours a week) and the after school coordinator who works 12-20 hours a week. We have one volunteer who assists 2 days a week and receives a small stipend to cover transportation costs and the rest of the staffing is volunteers! Wonderful community volunteers as well as students from the University of New England who freely donate their time.
Yet this model of heavy reliance on volunteers is not sustainable with the growth we are seeing in the center and specifically for the summer when there are no students to assist us. To run the summer program we must hire 2 employees to work July 2-August 24. Our summer program provides a daily enrichment activity as well as a nutritious hot lunch each and every day! To staff the summer program will cost $5600, which based off last year’s enrollment breaks down to $133 per child! A full summer of programming 5 days a week that includes a meal for $133 per child is unheard of!
People often ask do state budget cuts affect Joyful Harvest, directly they don’t but indirectly they do. As funding is slashed for many youth related programs, there is a shortage of safe spaces for youth and as a result we are seeing more kids as area social workers are referring more kids to Joyful Harvest. We are grateful for the chance to be that safe space for many but it does require assistance.
Won’t you consider sponsoring one child this summer? It’s only $133 and we do offer online giving for your convenience.