SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

May 27, 2013

Project Sunshine will return for homeless children

Danvers will once again offer summer fun program for kids in motels

DANVERS — Project Sunshine is returning.

For the third year in a row, the town will run the free summer recreation program for 40 homeless kids living in local motels.

More than 100 families with more than 160 kids — 60 of them school age — were living in Danvers motels as of last week. This, despite the fact that the number of homeless families in motels has steadily dropped, and the state has pledged to end the use of rooms as emergency shelters by June 2014.

Over the next few weeks, Recreation Department staff will work with school officials to reach out to the homeless children who attend Danvers schools. To reach students who attend school out of district, they will go to the motels, hang fliers in lobbies, and ask desk managers to let families with children ages 6 to 14 know that the program is available.

“Our goal for this program is a fun, safe summer,”Recreation Director David Mountain said.

The program is funded by donations from residents, businesses and community organizations, including in-kind donations. The town will also apply for grants.

The People to People Food Pantry on Sylvan Street donates the money to pay for breakfast, lunch and a snack, said Pam Parkinson, the town’s director of Senior and Social Services.

Staff at the senior center coordinate 20 to 25 volunteers who make the meals during what will be a seven-week program this year. In the past, the senior center has also hosted the children for a Belgian waffle breakfast and for cookouts.

In all, Project Sunshine will cost $30,000 to $35,000 to run.

The town plans to reach out to the business community, which has given generously in the past.

As of May 21, there were 111 families being sheltered in three Danvers motels, with 166 children, 61 of them school age, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development, which runs the program to shelter families in motels on an emergency basis. It’s this program that is supposed to end next year.

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