CRISFIELD, Md.- A summer and after-school youth program is on the hunt for a temporary home now that plans to demolish and replace its building, which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy, are moving forward.
Somerset County officials plan to use $3 million of a $16.7 million dollar award, in federal sandy relief money, to rebuild the former H. DeWayne Whittington Primary School. The building is home to Crisfield's Head Start Center and It Takes A Village to Help Out Children Inc., a non-profit that helps children develop their reading, math and social skills. More than 100 students participate in the summer program.
Pearl McCready said her grandchildren have learned a lot.
"This program improves reading because it is a target area, and if you improve reading, then you're going to raise the math scores," McCready said. "This program targets those areas."
The youth program shares the aging school building with Crisfield's Head Start Center. When Hurricane Sandy hit, the building shut down for repairs for four months. It Takes a Village Executive Director Darlene Taylor said the storm's effects caused more and more damage overtime.
"After Hurricane Sandy, we had so much damage to this roof; it just leaked," said Taylor, who walked around the room while pointing at several signs of water damage. "Up here was the air vent, you could actually see outside; there was so much water coming through."
The program's recreation room along with two other rooms in the building are closed.
While Taylor said she is grateful for the county's plan to rebuild the school, she said more funding is needed to sustain the program. She said $3 million is not enough to build a facility that will house Head Start and It Takes a Village.
"We're looking to get enough funding to create a multi-purpose facility that can serve out kids," Talyor said.
Some of those needs include a game and music room, a stage, swimming pool. She said many of the children do not know how to swim and lessons would be beneficial.
Taylor said Head Start will move to a temporary space in Westover this August, but It Takes a Village needs to find a home for the next two years.
Gary Pusey, the county's planning director, said construction on the new building will start within a year. He said the county still needs to hire an engineering firm and architect to design the facility.
Meanwhile, Taylor hopes to secure a new home for the program and addition funding to make amenities at the new building possible.
Donations are being accepted at It Takes A Village to Help Out Children P.O. Box 486 in Crisfield.
As far as providing temporary space for the kids, Taylor can be reached at 410.968.1062. The program's accountant can be reached via 410.749.0751.