Home News Local news Homework Center Gives Mon Bijou Kids an After-School Alternative

Homework Center Gives Mon Bijou Kids an After-School Alternative

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Oct. 30, 2006 — "We found out that a lot of kids in our area need help with their homework," said Mon Bijou Home Owners' Association President Sharisse Bascombe.
Better known as "Ms. B," Bascombe took her inspiration from her eight-year-old daughter, Njeria, who began a small study group on their back porch.
"She wants to be a teacher," Bascombe said. "She corrects her friends' work and gives out stars and smiley faces."
Now Bascombe has begun to organize the Mon Bijou Homework Assistance program for children in the area, and specifically those attending Alfredo Andrews Elementary School.
Since the school year began, Njeria has studied with her five friends and asked her mother if she could begin giving them snacks after school along with the homework assistance. Njeria loves to read and write, Bascombe said, and can be seen everywhere with a pen and paper held firmly in her little hands.
The area in and around Mon Bijou is home to more than 500 families. Every school day the association opens its community center, a building designed for adult recreation. The association found many children in need of homework assistance and after-school snacks. Equipped with tables, chairs and a kitchen, the center has already become a makeshift after-school facility.
"We are trying to get seniors from the high schools who need community-service credits to tutor the children," Bascombe said. Programs such as this are vital to the community, says Cenita Heywood, American Red Cross youth volunteers chairperson and audio-visual specialist for the St. Croix Educational Complex.
"It is very important for students in that area, because once they get home there is not much public transportation," Heywood said. "It is a great idea to have something in that area that will help keep the children safe and occupied."
Although the program will not officially get off the ground until Nov. 13, the association's fund is being used to assist the children who come in daily searching for homework help. Once the program officially begins, children from kindergarten through sixth grade will be welcome from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Heywood said her students are required to complete 100 hours of community service before graduation. Programs like the one in Mon Bijou are key to producing better citizens in the future, she said.
With all the bad press coming out of the schools, one-on-one mentorship gives younger kids an opportunity to see a good example from kids closer to their age," Heywood said.
Drawing inspiration from her daughter, Bascombe expresses excitement about the prospect of aiding children in the area. Many neighborhood children need assistance but may not know where to go, she said. She hopes they will come to the center, and that the center will be well equipped to aid them in their quest to become successful and productive citizens.
For Bascombe, the biggest struggle is finding adult assistance for the program, but it has basic needs, too.
"We need writing materials like pencils and sharpeners, because currently we are asking the children to come in with their own stuff," she said. Among other things, the program needs: a blackboard, printer, copier, fax machine, laptop computer, educational posters and restroom supplies.
For more information on the program contact "Ms. B," Sharisse Bascombe, at 692-7689.
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