Junior high project survives
The Oasis drop-in center at Central School in Glencoe is an alternative place for fifth- through eight-graders to gather during lunch or recess. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 12:19PM
After a couple of tough years, the Glencoe Junior High Project is back in black.
“Last year, we wondered if we were going under,” GJHP Co-president Debbie Jha said.
The non-profit pulled $20,000 out of reserves to balance its last budget. That won’t be necessary this year, according to leaders.
“This year’s been a really good year,” Co-president Geena Zaslavsky said Monday. “We had a really successful fundraising letter, Party on the Parkway raised ($3,000), and we’ve just come off a successful play.”
“Little Shop of Horrors” sold out three of four performances at Central School’s Misner Auditorium in early February, a better showing than the annual musical – the organization’s biggest fundraiser – has shown lately.
As the school population drops with the economy, so has participation in the show, which feeds the organization both with ticket revenue and per-kid fees. That show has helped turn Glencoe youths into leaders in the New Trier High School theater community, and the service arm of GJHP has boosted the social-consciousness projects at New Trier, too.
Glencoe middle-schoolers help with a special needs sports program, at least two hunger-abatement organizations, a senior group and a homeless organization, and they tutor struggling readers.
The group also provides the middle school’s dances and some other social events, plus a lunchtime and after-school activity center in Central School’s basement.
The group, like many in Glencoe, has to stretch, now that United Way has cut off most Glencoe organizations, in favor of giving money where more help is needed.
Glencoe Youth Services, Glencoe Family Services and GJHP, all in that unfunded status, looked for more money from the village of Glencoe last month, and only Family Services got the extra money.
That group is raising $20,000 for a Glencoe needs assessment, and asked for $5,000 over last year’s village donation of $22,669.
Trustees last month, by a 4-1 vote, approved the extra cash for Family Services, which handles many social needs that the village might otherwise have to fund directly.
Youth Services asked to be boosted from $8,835 to $15,000, mostly to cover its Young Adult Program, which is the only program in the area that serves special needs clients. GJHP asked to be raised from $8,658 to $13,000, to cover part of its depressed bank balance.
Youth Services was turned down, 3-2. GJHP’s increase wasn’t even considered. Neither were smaller additional requests from the Writers’ Theatre, the Chamber of Commerce, and the North Shore Arts Ensemble.
“Every organization we support is worthy of even more support (but) we are using tax dollars of people who don’t have choices,” Village President Scott Feldman said.
“We have a very different organization that is focused on the young people of Glencoe,” Feldman said. “The School Board, perhaps that’s the place for people to go.”
School officials said last week that, if asked, they’d discuss picking up some of the slack, but they haven’t been.
Jha, a leader both at both GJHP and Youth Services, said that kids’ role in the community shouldn’t be discounted.
She noted that the school gives GJHP no money, but donates space and personnel help, as the organization provided services that taxpayers would otherwise have to cover.
The Glencoe Park District donates $15,000 annually to GJHP. It donates $11,000 to Youth Services, and it provides the group its headquarters. New Trier Township also donates to both groups.
“People move to this community because it’s a special community, with all these wonderful things,” Jha said. “What kind of community do you want for yourselves?”
Feldman voted against the raise for Youth Services, and Trustee Joel Solomon voted against the raises for both Youth Services and GJHP.
“I used to be an active member” of United Way, Solomon said. “I dropped involvement. It doesn’t have a Glencoe focus.
“I think you should form a (local) consortium of the non-profits,” he added. “What I did for United Way I’d love to do 10 times over for Glencoe.”
Feldman and Trustee Larry Levin both liked his idea. Jha said she wasn’t sure how many others would agree.
“I don’t have an issue with fund-raising together,” Jha said Monday. “But we already all raise money, and everybody’s already tapped out.
“How much more can we ask for?”~.