Needs increase as grants decrease at Syracuse’s Bishop Foery Foundation

by Jennika baines
Sun assoc. editor

As the economic crisis continues to roll over businesses, banks and motor companies, the fiscal pressures on small community centers in traditionally impoverished areas can go unnoticed. But changes to the programs offered at these centers can have profound effects on the community, and especially on the lives of neighborhood children.

Larry King, Director of the Bishop Foery Foundation at 100 Edmund Ave. in Syracuse, said his neighborhood center has felt the aftershocks of the economic crisis “tremendously.“

King said the center has lost some of its volunteer staff, and grants they once applied for with little competition are becoming more and more competitive as other programs look to replace lost funding.

“Most of the grants you have coming in now, they’re specific to what they’re targeting, so they’re for the kids. But that doesn’t pay the electric bill, that doesn’t pay the heat bill,” King said.

The rising price of gas has led the Foundation to cut back on its weekly field trips during the summer program.

“I’m trying to get the kids out of the community as much as we can, but there were only three trips this summer,” King said. “This is the first year in 18 to 20 years of being a center director that we have not been able to schedule our Friday trips.”

This year, there was enough money to take the children to area beaches the last three weeks of the seven-week program. A fourth visit was planned, but was rained out. King said the money for that trip was put toward bringing the children to Youth Day at the State Fair instead.

While the Foundation does receive some funding from The HOPE Appeal, King said there is a real need to raise funds. One way of doing that will be the 15th Annual Larry King Golf Tournament to benefit the Bishop Foery Foundation.

The tournament will be held on Mon., Sept. 14 at the Pompey Club. It will begin with registration at 11 a.m. with a noon shotgun tee-off. There is a $125 entry fee, and King said there is plenty of space still available for people to show up on the day. (For more information on the event, see the box that accompanies this story.)

The tournament originally started as a way to bring in extra money for computers or bus trips, King said. Whatever was left over could be used to plug any holes in the budget. But recently, that discretionary aspect has vanished. “Now the golf tournament is plugging holes,” he said.

Of course, not everyone has the funds available to help the Foundation. But King would ask those people to consider giving something just as important: their time.

King said the Bishop Foery Foundation also has a pressing need for volunteers. While the return to school means that students from Syracuse University, Le Moyne College and Onondaga Community College may volunteer through university community outreach programs, there is always the need for more helping hands.

There are a number of volunteer opportunities available. The Foundation offers a pre-school program for children ages three and a half to five years old, an elementary program for children from ages six to 12, and teen programs for children aged 13 to 19. There are also respite services that provide assistance for children and teenagers who have developmental disabilities, as well as providing support and advocacy for their families.

The Bishop Foery Foundation also offers family services such as counseling, a food pantry, a fresh food giveaway, Medicaid Service Coordination and Outreach/Advocacy.

King, who will mark his 30th anniversary of working with Catholic Charities this year by accepting a Brady Award, has been at the Bishop Foery Foundation since 1988. While he is technically the center director, he said anyone who works there understands the need to fulfill a number of roles.

“You do a little bit of everything,” King said. “I do maintenance, I [drive] vans, I clean up, I tutor, I mentor.”

“I think that whether it’s here or any other agency out there, we’re all in a financial battle. The need is getting greater and the finances are getting smaller,” King said. “What we’re looking for first of all is the time. There are lots of great volunteers out there looking for the right connection.”

The Bishop Foery Foundation is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays. For more information on volunteering, please call Larry King or Annie Dunlap, volunteer and tutoring coordinator, at (315) 475-8316.

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