A Closer Look at Project LiftThursday, March 24, 2011 19:37
After reviewing more than 20 applications from non-profit organizations in the Saratoga area, Saratoga Springboard was proud to announce that we had chosen to partner with Franklin Community Center’s Project Lift for our 2010/11 project. We recently asked Bo Goliber, Coordinator of Development and Volunteers at Franklin Community Center, to answer a few questions about Project Lift for our readers. We know that after learning more about Project Lift, you’ll be as impressed with the program as we are. Here’s what Bo had to say –
What is Project Lift?
Project Lift is an after-school prevention program for youth in grades one through five in the Saratoga Springs City School District that places emphasis on positive youth development, raising self-esteem, and fostering the development of refusal, decision-making, problem solving and communication skills. The program is designed to equip children with information to make healthy decisions on their own. We currently operate at Greenfield, Lake Avenue and Geyser Road Elementary Schools.
What makes Project Lift different than other after-school programs?
Project Lift is different from other programs because we spend a great deal of time working to meet the needs of the children and their families, in addition to the time they spend with us after-school. We work closely with the school, parent and child as one unit, which creates a positive bonding experience for all involved. Our Family Outreach Educator ensures that the needs of the family are met as requested, including food, clothing, school supplies, holiday assistance and summer camp scholarships. The program itself uses research-based curricula to teach the children the skills they may not learn in the classroom or at home, with an emphasis on feelings, social skills and healthy decisions. The program is also free to the families we serve.
Can you tell us about the history of Project Lift? How has it evolved over time?
Project Lift was founded by Franklin Community Center in 1985. Originally intended to serve children in at-risk or low-income environments, the program has evolved to serve children from various backgrounds with varied needs. In today’s society, in part due to media, technology and increased pressure from peers, it can be said that most youth are exposed to outside factors that force them to grow up too quickly. In addition, an increased number of children who are facing Spectrum-related disorders have become more prevalent. Project Lift offers children a safe, caring and positive environment, yielding a boost in self-esteem and emotional competence. The staff of our program has become instrumental in helping teachers, families and the enrolled children work together as one unit to deal with a host of challenges that may face some of our community’s children.
Can you explain what a typical day at Project Lift is like?
A typical day at Lift begins with a social circle, where the Lifters have a chance to chat, have snack, unwind from their day, and talk with our high school volunteers (there are at least 15 volunteers at each site). After circle, we divide the group into two, to participate in two separate activities. Our Prevention Educators will each lead an activity, usually consisting of one “active” activity and one lesson. Both are educational in nature, but we make them universally appropriate and fun, so the kids don’t even realize they’re learning! Lessons/activities usually include but are not limited to: prevention education (tobacco, alcohol, bullying), emotional and social skills education, problem solving, healthy eating and healthy bodies, dance, yoga, relay races and more. Special guests also provide relevant information and presentations. Family events are also held in an effort to continue strengthening the family unit.
As someone personally connected to the children participating in Project Lift, how do you see the program affecting them?
Project Lift offers the children and their families a sense of support and advocacy. Many times, all people really need is to feel like someone is on their side when they are faced with difficult situations. Our trained staff serves as a liaison between the families and the school, as well as other community agencies, in an effort to provide them with the services they require. This helps the Lifters feel supported from all angles, creating one unit, which has been proven to effectively help with behavioral, emotional and social problems. We always hope to empower the children and families we work with in an effort to help them find their own inner strength.
Who can enroll in Project Lift?
Children must be enrolled in our operating schools and must be referred to Project Lift by school personnel or a parent or guardian. Once we receive the referral, our Family Outreach Educator will follow up with the parents to get them enrolled.
How is Project Lift funded?
Project Lift is gratefully funded by: Saratoga Springs City School District, The Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, Office of Children and Family Services, The Town of Greenfield, Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust, Ethel and W. George Kennedy Family Foundation, and various other community grants. Project Lift is free to enrolled children and their families. Funding for the program goes toward operational costs, which includes the hiring of an educated, competent, experienced and trained staff to oversee the program. Without funding to ensure such costs, the program cannot operate. As the economy continues to decline, donors and funding sources face difficult financial situations, causing the trickledown effect to our level. This has placed more of an onus on Franklin Community Center to raise the funds necessary to sustain the program. Now, more than ever, promoting Project Lift as the unique and invaluable program that it is has become incredibly important.
Aside from Project Lift, what other programs does Franklin Community Center offer?
Franklin Community Center’s present programs include: Project Lift, Furniture Distribution, Methods of Motherhood (M.O.M), Free Clothing and Household Items at 101 Washington Street, Food Pantry, Franklin Community Manor, Holiday Assistance, Community Meeting Space, Back to School Assistance, Advocacy and referral.
Where can we find more information about Project Lift?
Our website is extremely informative, and we make every effort to keep it up to date with current events and announcements. We also send out a quarterly newsletter. You can call anytime to be added to our mailing list (587-9826). I am always available for speaking engagements, should any businesses or potential funders be interested in a more formal presentation.
Thank you, Bo, for taking the time to tell our readers more about Project Lift! All of us at Saratoga Springboard are beyond excited to be partnering with a program that makes such a positive difference in the lives of so many children and families in Saratoga.
Stay tuned to Saratoga Springboard’s website and Facebook page as we prepare to announce the event we’re currently planning in support of Project Lift. You’re not going to want to miss it!