“If they wouldn’t have helped, I wouldn’t be here.”
But officials say the community would not let Lynette’ Cooper or any of her fellow campers have no place to go this summer.
“You’ve got to turn lemons into lemonade and in this particular case, I knew if we reached out to the community, they’d respond, there’s no way they’d let our kids down for the summer,” said Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian.
With the Katz Jewish Community Center and South Jersey Industries leading the way, the community responded by raising over $200,000, to reopen the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City for the summer.
“For us to come here and help I think it was natural and I think we felt it wan an obligation to our community for the JCC to step in and help,” said Jack Fox, Executive Director of the Katz JCC.
“They could’ve been home doing something less and here they have a lot of activities both physically and mentally and it’s just great,” said Ed Graham, CEO and Chair of South Jersey Industries.
The Katz JCC also took it a step further, and this summer, they will be operating the summer program at the Boys and Girls Club.
“We have new programming,” said Fox. “A really great staff, but more importantly it sets the stage for a solid future for the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City and that’s the most important thing.”
With the JCC now running the program, officials say this will be the best summer yet. With plenty of field trips and guest speakers planned, the campers have a lot to be excited about. Officials say hundreds of people chipped in whatever they could to save the summer program, whether it was just a few dollars, or much, much more. Now, with the summer saved for dozens of city kids, officials say the effort to remain open into the fall, and to continue to provide a safe haven for kids, is well underway.
“I would just be in the house sitting in the room watching TV,” said Cooper. “It feels good being at camp cause I really don’t have nothing to do when I’m home.”