All of us at LUCY believe in every single youth that walks through the door. Being a nonprofit in Camden and working with one of the most forgotten populations, we are proud that our youth stay off the streets and avoid gang and drug involvement despite living in an environment where most their age have little choice but to become involved in some way. We now offer programming and support daily, have a growing staff of committed young people, and the opportunity to increase the services we provide to the youth and their families, particularly support services for our most at-risk youth. Our model works as it enables our participants to reach their full potential and go on to do amazing things with their lives!
Recently, Yoresmi graduated with her Associate’s degree from Camden County and is continuing her studies at Temple University. Two brothers, Rob and Julius, enlisted in the military and have recently completed basic training. Luis accepted a job at Vanguard after graduating from St. Joseph’s University with a degree in Marketing. Elvia has remained a full-time student at Rowan University while raising a toddler with serious disabilities. She will graduate next year. I could go on and on about all of our incredible youth and their journeys.
It is undeniable that good things are happening in Camden, and LUCY is absolutely one of those things! That having been said, I can’t help but worry about all the youth whom we cannot support due to lack of space, funding, and staff. Every morning, I drive by the same drug corner and Jason waves to me. He has tried so many times to get off the streets and always ends up back on that same corner. Or Jessica, a participant that did so well during her time at LUCY years ago before her mother was deported. She then moved into an apartment alone without mentors or supports in place for the first time in her life, and is now a single mother of two.
While negative perspectives of Camden persist, it is clear to see that there is so much good in the city and positive outcomes coming from LUCY. Our youth come from all walks of life and past experiences, yet we understand that the effectiveness of our outreach is directly related to the dynamic of kinship that we’ve built and nurtured over the years. While not related by blood, we are all family and the youth feel that each and every day.
Thank you all for your constant support and being a part of this journey with us.
Kristin Prinn, MSW, LCSW