By Paula Katinas
Dyker Heights — The fight to save the McKinley Beacon program is getting some high-powered help from Washington, D.C.
U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm recently paid a visit to the after-school program, talking to students and program officials and vowing to do what he could to save it from closure.
Following that visit, Grimm wrote a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, urging him to continue funding the McKinley Beacon program.
The program, housed at McKinley Intermediate School, 7301 Fort Hamilton Parkway, is sponsored by HeartShare Human Services of New York and is administered by the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development.
The program provides homework help, computer classes and sports and recreation facilities for hundreds of children in Dyker Heights, Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. A child does not have to be a McKinley student to take part in the Beacon program, officials said.
The McKinley Beacon also offers a day camp for children during the summer months.
The Dept. of Youth and Community Services is pulling the plug on the McKinley program and other Beacon programs around the city due to budget constraints, officials said.
“It will be hard on a lot of families if it closes,” said Bill Guarinello, president and CEO of HeartShare Human Services. “A lot of parents depend on it.”
In his letter to Bloomberg, Grimm wrote that the program does a lot more than help kids shoot a basketball.
“The McKinley Beacon program serves up to 200 children every day, providing educational support and a wide variety of activities which foster positive social engagement for local youth, many of whom would otherwise be at home alone, or left in other unsupervised circumstances. As you know, after-school activities play a critical role in a young person’s development and provide parents with the support they need while working to make ends meet,” Grimm wrote.
The program is important to working parents, according to Grimm.
“Because the program operates on Saturdays and on many school holidays, it is particularly vital to working families who struggle to balance the demands of their jobs and child care,” he wrote. “South Brooklyn is home to many vibrant and active middle-class families. Yet, they struggle in these difficult times from month to month and paycheck to paycheck. The middle class doesn’t escape the increasing burden of the city’s taxes, or the regulations that hinder their businesses. They don’t get their few government services for free, but they are always the first to be asked to sacrifice more. I am proud to stand with them in saying, ‘Enough!’”
The mayor’s office had no comment on Grimm’s letter.
May 4, 2012 - 3:01pm