Have you ever been to a community center? If you are doing well enough on your own, chances are great that you haven’t experienced participating in community center activities or you haven’t been active enough to understand why they are so important in the less fortunate areas of the neighborhood. You will hear athletes, celebrities, and other famous personalities commending community centers as the launchpad for their dreams. To less fortunate families, the community center stands as a beacon of hope where kids can learn and hone skills they wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to.
Community centers should be providing and opening opportunities for families in poor neighborhoods. Its members should be helping each other by sharing experiences, helping with what they can, and even buying local. That is ideally what this center should stand for. Are other centers all over the country following it? Hardly. But with enough push, especially from younger generations, these community centers can thrive again. So, what role should they play in the neighborhood?
Generating Income for Families
What they said about teaching a man how to fish is true. Community centers should provide opportunities for families to generate an income. That’s what’s going to take them out of their current situations. Generating enough income will put food on the table and send their kids to school. It all starts from there. Providing them the opportunities to take care of their families will snowball. As long as they can put their kids to school and out of the streets, they have a better chance already.
But how are they going to generate income when they do not have specialized skills to offer? That’s what community centers are for. You can use the center to organize skills training and many other short courses. People can use these skills to find a job or start their own businesses. Whatever knowledge they get from these centers can be applied to their careers.
Community centers, however, should also give out information on how families can boost their earnings, especially those who are going through hard times. Many do not know that they can get paid for participating in research. Anyone who has gone through an illness or is taking care of someone ill can be a paid volunteer for a study. They can earn as much as $100 per phone interview, provided that they meet the eligibility requirements.
Keeping the Youth Out of Trouble
Out-of-school youth is prevalent in many parts of the country, but especially in poorer neighborhoods. These are the kids whose parents couldn’t send them to school. They stay in the streets to work and look for opportunities to earn. They do side jobs and sometimes also work full-time in diners and retail shops. Community center programs can make a difference in these kids’ lives. By providing opportunities to learn or earn, community centers can ensure that these kids stay out of trouble and not get into criminality and drug abuse, which is prevalent among the youth.
The program should not only target those who do not attend school. It should also be designed to address the problems faced by high school kids whose parents cannot afford college. What if they want to pursue their studies? What happens to them? Schools are not always the best places to learn of higher learning opportunities. As much as they provide basic information about getting admitted to a college of your choice, it’s tough for their counselors to aid students in choosing academic tracks, scholarship options, grants, and many more.
This is what community centers can provide to children in poorer neighborhoods. They can aid them in figuring out which college suits their academic qualifications. How can they apply for scholarships? Who can write a recommendation letter for them? What if they aren’t necessarily good in academics? Can they still be qualified for a scholarship? Community centers can invite past members, educators, and school administrators to guide these kids along as they try to change the trajectory of their lives.
Yes, community centers shouldn’t be burdened to shoulder the heaviness of the financial constraints in poorer neighborhoods. At best, they are supplements to government and state aid. Times have changed, however. People can no longer rely on governments alone. Instead, they need communities, groups, and people to come together and make sure that no kid or family will be left behind. The power of community centers lies in their ability to change people’s lives for the better, keep families intact, and provide opportunities for children so that they can be positive contributors to society.