To the Editor:
On Tuesday I attended an “informational meeting” regarding the discontinuation of the after-school program. I was informed we were not there to discuss the Munchkin Program ... why not? The Munchkin Program is as valuable, if not more so, as the afterschool program. I moved to Boca Grande 19 years ago, and I stayed because it was a true community. I have volunteered my time for just about any and all youth-related activities. They are our future and I loved how it takes an island to raise wonderful human beings.
I have had the pleasure watching them build sand castles, parade in Halloween costumes, participate in theater, search for Easter eggs, attend reading hour, make art, play capture the flag, catch the biggest fish, and ride their bikes in the parade (there are more golf carts then bikes today, but that’s another matter for another day). I have been privileged to watch them grow. I have watched the older children share with the younger ones, to guide and teach one another. This is a win-win situation, because the younger ones learn and the older ones have a sense of accomplishment from sharing.
This is a unique and very special place to raise a child. Please do not let these programs slip away. If money is the issue I am sure it could be raised. By caring about our children and the welfare of their education, we have already seen the evidence of what it can bring.
I watched the Children’s Theater program disappear, and the sand castles Contest went away. The Night before Christmas pageant, Art Sharks ... they’re all gone. They were all useful tools to encourage self esteem and creativity. They’re not gone because of a lack of attendance or funds, but a lack of heart. Now we want to take away early education and after-school programs.
I may stand corrected, but wasn’t this the inspiration behind the Friends, to support our children’s education and its foundation? We were told at the meeting that we should look at the programs and not the personalities behind them. I might be wrong, but the personalities make or break the program.
Friends Executive Director Marta Howell was at times defensive, abrasive, and even dismissive. The head chair sensed this and stood with humility and grace and turned the vibes around instantly.
Hmmm ... personalities do not make a difference? It was proven Tuesday at the informational meeting that they do. I hope the board appreciates the comments made at that meeting, and will look at this issue with new eyes.
Yes, times have changed and we should all embrace change, but not to the detriment of our children. The key to our future is the enrichment of our children. They said this was just an information meeting? We were informed that the heads of each program, Laquata Meade and Angela Colosimo, were advised they would no longer have jobs as of May 25, but that the discontinuation of these programs was not “set in stone.” What? Was it set in wood, then?
This may be a community made up of wealthy retirees, full of wealth and wisdom, but the children are our hearts. Without the kids we are not the unique and special community we have all come to love. I for one am willing to do what is needed to keep these programs running. Are you?
Boca Grande and Englewood
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