Residents and Partners at Work: Youth Program Comes to Meadowview

Every Monday afternoon, apartment 108B at Meadowview Apartments in Pulaski, Virginia, is filled with the sounds of children making peanut butter crackers and opening books. That’s because Community Housing Partners (CHPC) has two AmeriCorps members working to bring resident services to the children of Meadowview. As part of CHPC’s Resident Integrated Services & Education (RISE) program, every Monday afternoon children meet with Linda Beal and Scott Bucey to focus on homework, educational play and games.

This 98-unit rental property, renovated in 2005, recently began providing resident services this year. The after school program started with only six children in the beginning of February, and in four short weeks doubled their enrollment to twelve. "We believe that’s a pretty successful beginning," Beal said.
About 23 children in elementary, middle, and high school currently live at the affordable housing community. "In a couple of weeks, we’ll make home visits to let more families know about the after school program," Bucey said. "Right now we’re just targeting elementary school children, but we’ll soon expand to provide services to other age groups."
 
Part of that expansion includes partnering with local churches to provide transportation for field trips on Friday afternoons, as well as a mentoring program for middle and high school students. A summer program and new computer center are also in the works. CHPC funded the center and new equipment, including five computers, television, VCR, tables, chairs and storage units. Internet access, and more chairs and counter space are also on the way.
 
In a partnership with the Virginia Commission for National and Community Service, CHPC’s AmeriCorps program focuses on providing academic success, violence prevention and citizen involvement for disadvantaged, at-risk youth. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and national statistics, students from low-income families are more likely to drop out of school, succumb to criminal activity or substance abuse, and perform poorly in school.
 
At Meadowview, CHPC’s AmeriCorps members are trying to change that. "Our goal is to inspire children to do well in school," Beal said. "After awhile, the glow of homework will probably wear off, but I believe the children will still enjoy having a program just for them."