Youth-oriented agencies outline summer activities

The Focus on Our Future Collaborative Board heard a series of presentations from local agencies Thursday during a gathering at First Baptist Church in Franklin.

The agencies talked about outreach programs they plan to offer during the summer for local children, teens and families.

The presentations emphasized how the current economic climate and the loss of Joy Plant 1 in Franklin affect local children and how they were prepared to assist them as it closed.

Marcy Shoenfelt, the membership director for the Franklin YMCA, mentioned that 2016 is the Y’s 125th year in the area and that they have had more than 3,400 members in their program.

“I feel like that’s a huge legacy to continue,” she said.

Shoenfelt emphasized that any child, rich or poor, is welcome to join the Y.

“The Franklin YMCA doesn’t distinguish when it comes to need,” she said. “It’s a safe destination.”

Corrina Woods of Youth Alternatives spoke about feeding hungry youth in the area, saying her agency served about 7,632 youth with roughly 6,400 meals last year.

“Every day we offer a meal to these kids, sometimes they need that meal,” Woods said.

Youth Alternatives also participates in a week-long summer camp in which 150 youngsters go to Rock Creek, Ohio.

The kids get to enjoy a variety of activities like swimming and fishing while they are at the summer camp, Woods said.

The Salvation Army has a camp in Ellwood City with accredited counselors for children. The camp is designed to get young kids away from video games and their phones and emphasizes collaborative activities such as music and drama classes.

The Salvation Army also plans to drive its emergency vehicle, “The Canteen,” into housing projects over the summer to interact with children and their parents that live there.

Luke Braughler from Child Development Centers was there as well. The CDC has centers in Cranberry, Oil City and Franklin.

“We take them to Erie Seawolves games, which kids really love,” Braughler said.

CDC also conducts its annual Camp Funshine, an 11-day activity centered retreat for children that places an emphasis on education.

Dan Flaherty, director of the Oil City Library, emphasized that the library is a community asset and that donors and organizations should feel free to use the building for children-centered activities.

“You can come in and always find games, blocks and Legos available,” he said.

“This is an open-ended offer for you to make suggestions on how we can increase that and expand upon that,” Flaherty said to the representatives from the various organizations who attended the meeting.