Registration for "Project Sunshine," the newly named program created last week for homeless children in Danvers began yesterday at each of the three motels where the children live.
The six week program will take place at the Highlands Elementary School from July 11 through August 19, and will cater to about 40 children who reside at Day's Inn, Knight's Inn, and The Extended Stay Inn.
"Project Sunshine" will offer games, sports, arts and crafts, other recreational activities and possible field trips. According to Town Manager Wayne Marquis, without a program like this, many of the children wouldn't have a place to play during the summer other than the motel parking lots.
Of the three social workers who were laid off last month due to budgetary issues, one has been extended to continue working with the motel families.
Marquis said the social worker will be very helpful in the registration process, noting that some families may feel trepidation and anxiety enrolling their children in the program. "Families know that she's their advocate," he said, of the social worker. "She has their trust."
On Monday June 27 the participating departments, including the School Department, Recreation Department, People To People Food Pantry, Department of Public Works, and Senior Social Services met at State Representative Ted Speliotis' office to finalize plans. According to Marquis, "everything is looking good."
The program is currently budgeted at approximately $25,000, used toward transportation, staffing, food and materials. The town is accepting grants, and tax-deductible donations for the program, as the program is not included within the town's budget.
As of April 27 there were 68 homeless families living in motels in Danvers, and the number has since grown to 121 families. According to Marquis, the lack of shelter beds and affordable housing for these families has led them to hotel and motel living situations.
"We're going to focus on what's in front of us, which is a number of Danvers residents that require our help," he said.
For more information about the program, contact Danvers Recreation at 978-777-0001 ext. 3094.