Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making a difference 10 years later

When it opened in 1998, the Jubilee Family Development Center was designed to provide low-income youth and their families a constructive recreational and educational environment to enrich their lives.

“We designed (it) to serve people in this area,” Jubilee executive director Sterling Wilder said. “We had to address the fact that a lot of working families had parents that had kids coming back after school with nothing to do.”

Prior to Jubilee there were very few, if any, recreational programs for children in this area. With so much time after class and during the summer while parents worked, there was an enormous risk of children falling into bad crowds, drugs, mischief and crime, according to Wilder.

“What we wanted for the people here, was something to keep them focused,” Wilder said. “That’s what makes Jubilee so great. It provides for people’s needs. Be it education, recreation or health needs, we can provide that.”

A decade after Jubilee opened, it is still making a difference.  Jubilee’s current facilities include gymnasiums, computer labs, classrooms, education centers for trades such as carpentry and sponsored health care centers. Nearly 4,000 children come through the center’s doors a year, nearly 60 to 70 a day.

Despite the fact that Jubilee is only staffed by three full time employees including Wilder and three part-time employees, the center does well with its work force to provide the structured environment that Jubilee prides itself on.

“Our staff is augmented by Liberty on a regular basis,” Wilder said. “The kids volunteer here pretty frequently and they love to come down and help out… It does make things easier for us, but we manage just fine with our staff.”

During the peak summer months when the center is busy for long stretches during the day, the staff increases by two, despite the fact that Liberty students may also not be in such high supply because of summer break. This helps keep costs low at the center and lets them provide a more personal touch to those that they are serving, according to Wilder.

However, like most organizations right now, Jubilee has taken a hit with the economic crisis.

“We’re a non-profit organization, so we rely heavily on personal donations, corporate donations and federal grants,” Wilder said. “The economy is struggling right now. Donations are down naturally, so that affects what we can do.”

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