Bringing new employment to the City of Emporia, improving education, and working to expand the opportunities for youth are goals Mayor Dr. Carolyn Carey would like to reach.
Approximately a year before winning the election as mayor of the city in November, Carey reached out to a pair of individuals to develop a plan to make those goals a reality. The program funding would come through state and federal grants. Emporia would not be on the hook for the revenue used for CIP activities.
Independent consultant Roscoe Brown of Virginia Beach implemented similar programs in the past. Brown, and Durham North Carolina’s Tommy Long, a former Harlem Globetrotter, presented the “Emporia Community Initiative Project (CIP)” to the Emporia City Council last week.
“The mission of the mayor’s Emporia Community Initiative Project is to promote the educational, emotional, and physical development of youth and their families through the implementation of culturally relevant programming, interagency collaboration, and unified community endorsement,” Brown said.
The CIP is based on a successful program Brown headed in the 1990s in Richmond. The Project READY initiative earned state recognition for its effectiveness.
“The first thing we did was pull together all the agencies together in the city,” Brown said. “It was a litany of agencies that were in many circumstances working with the same youth and families.”
The Department of Social Services, Recreation, and Housing took part in the program. They would play a critical role in the CIP.
Summer day and recreational camps for youth are a vital piece of the CIP structure. Project consultants will develop employment training programs for the unemployed and underemployed.
Law enforcement and volunteers play a critical role in the CIP. Brown said special model programs for juvenile offenders can provide employment, counseling, and services offering positive alternatives to gangs and drug-type activities.
Brown said the city manager was nervous before running a camp at William & Mary for public housing youth. It turned out OK.
“I’m pleased to say that after operating the camp and many others, there were no incidents,” Brown said. “That comes from supervision and staff that lays out a well-organized program for young people.”
Long has known Carey since 1974. The Federal Bureau of Prisons retiree lived in Emporia when he served as the Southampton Correctional Complex athletic director. Long has extensive experience creating youth programs and is a certified substance abuse counselor and recreational therapist.
Why is Long interested in wanting to see an improved quality of life for the citizens of Emporia?
“I have a son that lives here,” he said. “I have a granddaughter that lives here. I feel that with the help of Mr. Brown, we can bring programs to help develop and implement change for all people in a unified way. It will take all community members to make a difference so you can see improvement and see this city rise from the bottom. I want to see that change for my granddaughter and my son. If it happens for them, it will happen for everybody.”
Fifteen citizens from various occupations have been brought in to serve on the CIP. Leaders of the program seek community involvement to get the CIP off the ground and running.