WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Leaders with the Wilmington Housing Authority see the after school program for the Houston Moore community as bright spot for a public housing system that's been in the shadow of increased violence in the city.
Nearly 40 children are enrolled in the program, which provides help with homework, games to play and a snack on most days. Those days are growing shorter.
Rose Coston, a WHA employee, manages the program when she finishes her day job. She's had to cut the schedule from five days a week to just three.
"It's like a safe haven for them," she said. "I would stay open longer if I had volunteers."
Right now, Miss Rose's pool of volunteers is only a few parents deep. She said she's grateful for the extra set of eyes, but she needs more of a commitment from the community. Coston said the children could truly benefit from a steady stream of volunteers.
"I can help with elementary stuff," said Coston. "But some of the things, even with a degree, I don't remember."
Greta Barnes will remember her first experience with the after school program. Currently working at College Park Elementary, Barnes brings more than a decade of experience in education to her new role as a volunteer.
"With some of the issues that we've had in the community recently," she said. "I think anything we can do to promote education is important."
Barnes was one of two fresh faces to show up at Tuesday's open house at the Houston Moore Community Center. Coston said she hopes to see more people have an interest in these young boys and girls.
"Everybody's child is my child," she said. "They just need an opportunity to get out there to excel and compete with everybody else."
Children under the age of 12 account for more of a third of Wilmington's public housing population. Coston said anyone can see the results as the children grow up and remember who helped them grow.
"When the older ones speak to you.," she said. "I think, maybe I did touch somebody."
The program focuses on elementary students, with a few middle school students signed up as well. Coston said she would love to see all ages be able to attend, but the program can't expand without any additional assistance.
Anyone interested in participating should email Rcoston@wha.net or call 910-341-7750.
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