Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Young People Have Choices

On Tuesday, I received word of a very good opportunity for youth in Plainfield. The information is in the blog post, "SSYC Foundation Offers Youth Opportunity."

Coming the day after two appeals from groups at the City Council meeting, it couldn't have been more timely. Two groups asked the governing body for help in creating a community center, but here is word from an organization in a center that has been in existence since 1957. I believe there are many other established groups and organizations in the city that offer programs for young people and I wish there was a directory or even a list of them.

It is always commendable when new groups form and want to serve youth or other underserved populations. What I have never liked is the notion that unless such-and-such group is backed by the city, young people have no other choice but the street. It would be more helpful, while such groups are organizing and finding their own funding through grants and donations, to partner with existing groups to serve youth.

"These young ones, they want something from us," one speaker said Monday.

Perhaps while new groups are adding their energy to the mix, young people can explore what already exists in Plainfield. Sports leagues, church-based mentoring groups, Scouts, YMCA leadership training, Boys & Girls Club, sororities and fraternities and social organizations that promote passage to responsible adulthood - all these are here and more. My own favorite stop after school was the public library in my hometown.

The city provides youth employment every summer where teens can learn about the workings of government and some of our city and state officials got their start right in City Hall. Mayor Adrian O. Mapp is planning a youth summit and other ways to engage young people. Someone mentioned reviving the Youth Commission. There are actually two Youth Commissions on the books and neither has any current members. More on that topic later.

No amount of good will toward youth may save those bent on gang activity and gun violence. Some have chosen that bad path and will not be deterred. The majority, I believe, are hoping to grow up to become responsible adults, even if they have big challenges at present. They need to know where help exists in Plainfield now.



  1. If we in Plainfield are so concerned about the youth, why are our schools so crummy? What better way to support our youth than to ensure they have a good education so they can have choices in their lives?

    In my opinion, we care little about our youth. We care more about our cottage industry and using the children as an excuse for political gain.

    Let's put some of this energy in pressuring the BOE and Superintendent in raising the standards of our education.

  2. I have to agree with anon 9:26.


  3. Regarding community centers in Plainfield, we have community schools for which tens of millions were spent. The 1st Ward's Emerson Community School, as well as Washington Community School (right on the line between the 3rd and 4th Wards) are extensions of the city, as noted in their mission statements, with state of the art resources, and programs can be run in them (as many are). A lot of the community organizations can use these facilities--as many of them already do.

    It is possible that some of these organizations (such as some that have come before us) are not aware of the fact that they can use these community schools for their programming. The facilities would not cost them any money to build. They can contact the BOE to fill out an application for use. The League of Women Voters, Horizons College Club, the sororities, and many other groups use the facilities for programs--now that a new shared services agreement between the district and the council is in place, our entire community will receive the benefits while also ensuring that our overburdened taxpayers (especially those on fixed incomes and/or Social Security, and those for whom paying taxes and PMUA bills leaves precious little income for them and their families) won't see a tax hike because of properties off the tax rolls. Here is a partial description about Washington Community School (WCS): "WCS continues to serve as an extension to the Plainfield community, our campus is utilized for multiple programs presented by various community organizations and groups from the mayor’s office to Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc."

    I think that collaboration and the use of all the existing buildings in the city (churches, community centers, schools, etc.) is the best use for community programs at this point. The CURE Group was unaware of the 2012 sale of the state Armory building to H.O.P.E.S. Head Start, but once that building is completed and refurbished, a “good neighbor” policy might allow H.O.P.E.S. to invite local groups in to use the facilities for programming.


  4. I have given educational lectures in the Plainfield Schools. The students are bright, full of knowledge, enthusiastic, and courteous.

  5. A problem is that there is no centralized coordination agency to make maximum use of available facilities. The BOE should also yield part of its authority to a centralized facilitator. That should be the function of an effective and properly staffed Recreation Division.

    As long as political spoils policies motivate the governing bodies and turf protection by BOE exist in Plainfield that will never happen.