Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Growing up in a downturn

Almost weekly, I receive an e-mail from The National Salvation Army Communications Bureau.  And, I confess, I usually give it a cursory glance and delete it. Not because I don’t care, but because it doesn’t usually apply to Tulsa.The Army has an expression that I like, “Bless and release,”and that’s what I do.  But recently, I received “Growing Up in a Downturn,” a report on how the Army’s program for youths has been affected by the recession. It was chock full of interesting data and I wondered how Tulsa is bearing up during the economic downtown compared to the rest of the country. 

All of the Tulsa Area Commands programs for youths are in our six Boys and Girls Clubs with the exception of Supportive Housing for families at the Center of Hope. The national report gathered statistics from 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2011. Research showed that 81 percent of Salvation Army social service centers in cities throughout the United States have seen increases in requests for youth programs and services, including education, food, arts and theater, athletics and youth ministries. In Tulsa, we have seen a 17 percent overall increase in membership at the Boys and Girls Clubs, so we fit right into that 81 percent.  Luckily, we haven’t seen an decrease in funding with the increased demand, although
 Boys and Girls Club Operations Manager Rosemary Brown
 reports that finding funds has become increasingly competitive. Another national trend has been cutting youth  programs because of the recession. Happily, we haven’t done that and in fact have created new programs to help club kids with scholarships and some basics, such as nutrition. In the next few weeks, I’ll report on how individual Boys and Girls Clubs have coped with the recession. But right now, I need to delete a few more e-mails.

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