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Springfield program offered to Black youth wraps up an eventful summer

The Black Men of Greater Springfield organization leaders with kids from the summer youth program joined by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno at the Church in the Acres.
Nirvani Williams
/
NEPM
The Black Men of Greater Springfield organization leaders with kids from the summer youth program joined by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno at the Church in the Acres.

The Black Men of Greater Springfield organization wrapped up it's W.E.B DuBois Summer Program Friday.

The free six-week, full-time summer program hosted 25 Black boys from ages 8 to 14.

They traveled to different community events and participated in activities like going to the science museum and bowling.

"We think it's an opportunity for them to see how to engage with each other in a safe manner and in a positive manner," said William Zachary, president of the Black Men of Greater Springfield. "We try to operate like a family, like big brothers. We have a few female staff, too, because it's important to us that these young guys kind of respect female authority also."

The program also provides food for participants, knowing that many children experience food insecurity during the summer months, Zachary said.

They operate based on donor funding as well as American Rescue Plan Act or "ARPA" state grant funding received this year, so that families would be able to participate at no cost.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno attended the group's final event for the summer held at Church in the Acres.

"This is an important community program that has been around for many years and helps encourage and develop young men in our city," Sarno said, adding that the city also provided resources to ensure the program would be free for families.

The Rev. Christopher Lister, who leads Church in the Acres, and is known as "Pastor Chris," said he was thrilled to host the event at the church.

"It gives us the opportunity to reach out into the community also and show that we care," he said. "We're a part of this community and we want to make more things like this happen at the church."

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.
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