Youth Program Reopens After Being Closed for Months in Crisfield - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Youth Program Reopens After Being Closed for Months in Crisfield

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It Takes a Village to Help Our Children, a non-profit that helps children and teens with their social and academic development, is now operating out of the former PNC Bank building on Main Street near the City Dock. (Photo: WBOC) It Takes a Village to Help Our Children, a non-profit that helps children and teens with their social and academic development, is now operating out of the former PNC Bank building on Main Street near the City Dock. (Photo: WBOC)

CRISFIELD, Md.- An after-school youth program that has been closed for months reopened Monday in Crisfield.

It Takes a Village to Help Our Children, a non-profit that helps children and teens with their social and academic development, is now operating out of the former PNC Bank building on Main Street near the City Dock.

"We're just excited about having them come back," said Darlene Taylor, the non-profit's executive director. "We're able to help them again in the community and be a resource for all of our families."

Taylor said it has been difficult finding a permanent home for the program; the very reason she was unable to offer after school services until now. Delilah Jackson is a mother of four. Her kids have been a part of the program for a while. She said it has been difficult without it. 

"Having multiple children has made it difficult to have somebody consistently watch them during those after school hours," Jackson said.

But, it's not just about aftercare, it is the guidance her children receive. 

"The program teaches them different academic, social and life skills," Jackson said. "That's important to me."

The non-profit used to share the former H. Dwayne Whittington Primary School with the Crisfield Head Start Program. Taylor and her volunteers served more than 145 students over the summer, but decided to move out because of severe mold and water damage from Hurricane Sandy.

"We knew that was no longer a safe place for our kids," Taylor said. 

The county originally planned to use $3 million of federal sandy relief money to tear down the school and rebuild a new facility. Taylor said the county allocated $1 million to her program. The other $2 million would go to Head Start.

Gary Pusey, director of Somerset County's Department of Planning and Zoning, said the county decided to go with a different option once the Board of Education offered space that could be renovated at Crisfield High School. He said $2 million will still go toward construction for a facility that would be attached to the school. County officials have not determined how the addition $1 million will be spent, since it is not going to the non-profit.

The groundbreaking for a new facility behind Crisfield High for Head Start will happen in spring of 2016.

Taylor said three classrooms would have been designated for her program in the new building, but more space was needed. She found the former PNC Bank, which has been leased for a year. It still needs carpet and dividers for classrooms. She created a GoFundMe page for donations. 

No word on when the former primary school will be torn down, now that it is empty. Pusey said that will be discussed.

Once the school is demolished, the county will donate the land to Crisfield, if the city applies for a state grant that would fund construction of  a new building for the non-profit, according to Pusey. 

Several calls were placed to Mayor Kim Lawson about the proposal and when a decision would be made. WBOC's calls were not returned.

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