July 12, 2008

Hope Fund Sends Kids to Camp: $5,000 Grants Allows Children From Low-Income Families to Attend Summer Retreat

By Jimmy Vielkind, Albany Times Union, N.Y.

Jul. 12--COLONIE -- The Times Union Hope Fund will award $5,000 in scholarships for children from low-income families to attend summer camp.

The grant to the Troy Boys & Girls Club will help kids ages 8 to 13 attend Camp Barker, an 85-acre retreat along Forest Lake in Grafton that the nonprofit group has operated since 1923.

"Our committees were impressed at the history and longevity of your programs, the dedication of your staff, and the large impact you have on children's lives in spite of your small space and limited resources," Times Union Publisher Mark Aldam, who also chairs the Hope Fund board of directors, wrote in a letter announcing the grant. "We know that our grant will allow direct service to more children, which is our primary focus."

The Times Union Hope Fund shifted its focus and went year-round in 2007 after nearly five decades operating the seasonal Times Union Holiday Fund for the Elderly. The new fund's impact is meant to be more targeted, with demonstrable results. There are no administrative costs -- 100 percent of donations are awarded as grants.

To date, grants have been awarded to:

The Trinity Institution-Homer Perkins Center for an after-school program at the agency based in Albany's South End, $15,000

Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Rensselaer County, Rensselaer, for Camp Adventure, $7,500

Hamilton Hill Arts Center, Schenectady, for summer arts program, $5,000

Two Together, Albany, Reading Buddies Program, $4,500

The 15-Love program of Albany, to expand into Cohoes and Lansingburgh, $4,500

Sharon Smith, executive director of the Troy Boys & Girls Club, expressed thanks for the gift, which she said would open the world of camping to more children.

"For over 80 years, Camp Barker has offered a wealth of activities through which children can develop a sense of achievement, become part of a team and learn to understand and respect their environment," she wrote in a letter.

"Whether it is participating in wilderness exploration, fishing, nature study, learning to pitch a tent or roasting marshmallows around a campfire, our children are enhancing their character and leadership skills and determination to reach their full potential."


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