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When the Going Gets Tough for Kids in Mt. Vernon, Scarsdale Residents Respond

Published Monday, June 13, 2011

More than 100 attended the recent Amazing Afternoons fundraising kick-off organized by a group of Scarsdale residents concerned about the viability of this after-school program in Mt. Vernon. Due to state budget cuts, the 125 children enrolled in Amazing Afternoons at Mt. Vernon’s Edward Williams Elementary won’t have a place to go for homework help, recreation and mentoring.  Lack of funding for Amazing Afternoons, which is administered by Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS), threatens to discontinue free after-school enrichment and academic support for the students, many of whom are likely to go unsupervised in the afternoons. Nearly 90% of the children at the school qualify for free/reduced lunch; many come from single-parent homes; and some live in homeless shelters. The demise of the program also will leave working families without affordable childcare in the after-school period.

Concerned Scarsdale residents -- The Edward Williams Fundraising Group -- many of whom are long-time volunteers at Amazing Afternoons, have set a goal to raise $200,000 so that the program participants will continue to have “amazing afternoons” and their parents will have peace of mind knowing they are in a safe, nurturing environment.

  Spearheaded by Scarsdale residents Danny Bernstein and Helene Getz as well as students Ali Schnitzer and Graham Winston of the Edward Williams Club at Scarsdale High School, the group is soliciting donations to keep Amazing Afternoons viable for the 2011-12 school year. Many of these volunteers are congregants of Westchester Reform Temple (WRT), which adopted Amazing Afternoons years ago, providing a corps of adult and teen volunteers who offer enrichment opportunities including ballet, chess, chorus and much more.

  “A special bond developed between the WRT volunteers and the Edward Williams students,” says Danny Bernstein, who has volunteered at Amazing Afternoons along with his son Max.  “The volunteers and students share experiences, learning valuable life lessons from one another and growing from their participation in the program.” 

For more information about Amazing Afternoons or to contribute to the fundraising effort, go to www.amazingafternoons.org or call 761-0600 X219.